A group of House Republicans sent a letter to Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker of the Minnesota Department of Education this week, urging her to rescind the recent guidance issued banning graduation ceremonies statewide this year.
The letter follows guidance Ricker issued on May 8, removing the careful planning conducted by school leaders and parents regarding safe graduation ceremonies.
It makes absolutely no sense to issue a one-size-hurts-all order when we have so much variation between schools across our state. This approach ignores the thoughtful plans schools have already put in place to protect students and guests. There’s a big difference between having a graduation ceremony recognizing smaller numbers of students vs. a ceremony for hundreds of students. It is time to trust our local officials and families to know what is best for their communities.
On a side note, there seem to be a lot of questions and rumors circulating regarding authority MDE has regarding its guidance. A department spokesperson addressed whether penalties would be possible for holding an in-person ceremony:
"We’d like to dispel this rumor that schools will receive financial penalties from MDE if they choose to go against public health guidelines and hold an in-person graduation ceremony. Just like when other public health guidance is issued, the Department of Public Safety tries to take an educational approach to all those who do not adhere to public health guidelines. Simply put, the consequence of holding an in-person ceremony is public health and the spread of this virus. Like stated in the public health guidelines, COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that can cause serious illness and even death, especially the elderly and those with underlying conditions, and is still spreading throughout Minnesota. Staying home is a crucial way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to collectively protect our community.”
I hope this clears up any questions you may have.
The House plans to meet through the weekend as we near our Monday deadline to adjourn. Look for more news as things unfold.