There’s no denying the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. As of May 12, the death toll from the disease in Minnesota stood at 614.
Another 496 were hospitalized and 199 patients were in intensive care units.
Everyone must continue to take precautions, practice social distancing, wash hands, etc., but some of the guidelines the Minnesota Department of Education is proposing for graduation ceremonies seem extreme. They don’t take into consideration the size of the graduating class and the number of people who will be gathering to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
Some of the rules the state wants local school districts to follow include:
No car-pooling if schools plan a car parade to honor their graduates.
Those in cars should roll up their windows for the entire ceremony if they are parked next to other vehicles.
Those in vehicles would be allowed to roll their windows down only if they are more than six feet away from other vehicles.
Graduation events should be brief, without food, beverages or bathrooms.
Following the ceremony, graduates should not throw their caps in the air because that may encourage them to leave their vehicles.
The Minnesota Department of Health is also discouraging private graduation parties, saying that gatherings of people from multiple households are not in the spirit of the stay-at-home order.
In our view, these restrictions border on micro-management by the state. Some of these decisions would be better left to local school districts to decide, using commonsense and reasonable precautions.
We’re not the only ones with that opinion. Not too surprisingly, the state orders are taking some heat. Those opposing the rules have been dubbed by some as “graduation moms,” but not in a derogatory way; it's more like a badge of honor.
In his weekly column, State Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, made a good point about how important graduation ceremonies are and what is at stake.
“Think of what this year’s senior class has missed as their high school careers come to a quiet and somewhat lonely end,” Anderson said. “Winter basketball tournaments were abruptly canceled, and the entire spring sports season was called off. With distance-learning, much of the social contact and other activities that seniors take part in were lost.
“Wouldn’t this be a topic better served by making it a local decision?” Anderson asked. “Our local school boards and administration know their schools and their students, and they are fully capable of planning ceremonies that are respectful and yet still maintain social distancing. The logistics are far different for a school graduating 75 or 100 students than they are for a school with 750 graduates.”
No matter how this year’s celebrations unfold, we urge the Class of 2020 to keep their heads high, be proud of their academic achievements and take pride in persevering through difficult and challenging times.