First, state-mandated social distancing guidelines caused Detroit Lakes High School's 2020 graduation ceremonies to be relocated from inside Ralph Anderson Gymnasium to an outside venue, Mollberg Field. Then, the annual rite of passage was delayed from May 17 to June 28 as a further concession to prohibit the spread of the novel coronavirus. And now, the latest pandemic-inspired restrictions have prompted the Detroit Lakes School Board to go back to the drawing board once again.
On Friday, May 8, the Minnesota Department of Education rolled out guidelines for graduation ceremonies that barred in-person gatherings in football stadiums or auditoriums and recommended that high schools, colleges and universities host virtual events instead. This policy change will be a major item of discussion at a Monday night work session planned by the Detroit Lakes School Board.
"I was surprised by the state’s decision and I’m very disappointed for the class of 2020 and their families," said DL School Board Chairwoman Amy Erickson in a written response to questions. "High school graduation is an important rite of passage for a young adult, and I’m hopeful that as a district we’ll be able to come up with a meaningful and memorable way to commemorate this important event in their lives."
"We’ll get together early next week and talk about options in light of the department’s new guidelines," said Detroit Lakes Superintendent Doug Froke. "We'll see what works best for us, the graduates and the parents."
He added that the new guidelines were "a collaborative effort between the Minnesota Department of Education and Department of Health, and I think the No. 1 thing to remember is that this is a health crisis — that's first and foremost. We have to keep that in our minds as we evaluate our options for graduation."
Monday night's work session is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. It will be live streamed on the Detroit Lakes Public Schools Facebook page. Besides plans for the June 28 graduation ceremony, other items to be discussed include district grading policies for its current distance learning program; discussion of a possible greenhouse addition at the high school; and an update on district-wide construction projects, including renovations and additions at the high school site.