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Will high school seniors graduate in-person, online or get a diploma in the mail?

Posted at 9:20 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 11:16:56-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Most Utah school districts are approaching a one-month countdown to their original graduation dates.

Two of the state's biggest districts held open conversations regarding graduation during virtual board meetings on Tuesday night.

Alpine School District Assistant Superintendent Rhonda Bromley outlined a survey that was sent to students and parents within the district. Bromley says over 6,000 surveys were returned.

"In going through the comments, they (students) want to be together," Bromley said. "Of course they do — they didn't have any closure. All the sudden one day they left school and we told them, 'Hey, you can't come back.'"

Bromley noted that parents and teachers prefer a virtual graduation.

Alpine also discussed other potential options, which might include fireworks displays for the entire community to see from a distance.

"We're announcing a graduation that's different but still a fantastic celebration," said Alpine Board President Scott Carlson. "I'm asking the sooner we can make an announcement, even if it's the first part of the announcement, to share that with the media so they also start sharing that we have great ideas."

Meanwhile, Canyons School District heard from public comment regarding their graduation plans as well. No decision was made for either Canyons or Alpine School District's on Tuesday evening, but both school boards outlined a variety of plans that would ensure that graduation 'will' happen.

"At the end of it, what we really want is to provide a ceremony for students where they feel like they were appropriately honored for all that they did during the years in school," Canyons School District spokesman Jeff Haney told FOX 13 Tuesday night. “We understand that this is a right of passage for high school seniors. They’ve worked really hard and many of those high school seniors have reached out to the district in the past few weeks asking for a postponement of graduation ceremonies or some type of a ceremony that would recognize all of the work that the class of 2020 has done."

Another question that the pandemic has posed regarding graduation is whether the rate of graduation in the State of Utah will increase for an eighth straight year.

According to the Utah State Board of Education, over 43,000 students graduated from Utah public schools in 2019. The graduation rate increased by 0.4% from 2018 and sits above 87%.