Following a protest at Government House on St. Croix, the Education Department said in a press release Saturday that no high school will have a sit-down graduation ceremony amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Education Department announced the graduation plans in a video broadcast on May 5, which generated outcry from St. Croix students upset that St. Thomas high schools had planned outdoor sit-down ceremonies.
St. Croix schools had planned drive-through ceremonies, and student protesters were outraged over the perceived inequality between the districts.
Education spokeswoman Cynthia Graham issued a statement Saturday afternoon “in an effort to reinforce and clarify plans,” after the protest.
“The following is true for all public high schools in the Territory,” according to the Education Department:
• All graduation ceremonies will be conducted in a hybrid fashion — some ceremony elements will be prerecorded while others will take place in-person: First Component: Prerecorded messages from school officials and dignitaries; Second Component: In- person diploma presentations; Third Component: Prerecorded cap-and-gown presentation of graduates
• All graduation ceremonies will be executed in a mobile format, this will consist of either a drive-through ceremony or a walk-through ceremony
• All graduation ceremonies will feature graduates walking across a stage or designated area to receive their diploma and be greeted by dignitaries
• A parent or guest will be allowed to take photos while graduate is crossing the stage
• No graduation ceremony will accommodate seated, in-person audiences
• All graduations will be live streamed on the Education Department’s Facebook page.
• Graduations ceremonies will not be open to the general public.
St. Croix Central High School
• 10 a.m., May 18
• Students will drive up, exit their vehicle, walk across a stage in the main parking lot to receive diploma, then return to vehicle and exit campus
St. Croix Educational Complex High School
• 10 a.m., May 19
• Students will drive up, exit their vehicle, walk across a stage on the school’s soccer field to receive diploma, then return to vehicle and exit campus
Ivanna Eudora Kean High School
• 1 p.m., May 20
• Students will drive up to the gymnasium steps, exit their vehicle and to receive their diploma, then return to vehicle and exit campus
Charlotte Amalie High School
• 1 p.m., May 21
• Students will line up outside, enter Ruth E. Thomas Auditorium and walk across the stage to receive their diploma
• Students will exit the campus after receiving diploma
“In the same way the department has opted to conduct classes in a hybrid fashion — with some students attending in-person and others attending virtually — graduations are being conducted hybrid. In 2020, graduations were conducted virtually, as COVID-19 continued to rage and a vaccine was not yet available; this year, as increasing numbers of residents are being vaccinated, the VIDE has taken the approach to conduct the 2021 high school graduations in a hybrid format, with the guidance and support of the V.I. Department of Health,” according to the news release.