HONOLULU(KHON2) — Officials urged the public to be extra cautious amid the uptick in COVID cases with graduations just around the corner.
Graduation guidelines have been in place since late April advising schools to take precautions like limiting guests, wearing masks and holding commencements outdoors.
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Despite the recent rise in cases, more than 40 graduation ceremonies will move forward as planned starting Monday, but schools can make adjustments if needed according to Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi.
“Schools do have the flexibility to implement strategies that best fit their respective area and the needs within their community,” Hayashi explained.
“We will be doing a full ceremony here at the school with leis and balloons and signs and having (parents) come on in and being able to celebrate their child,” said Radford High School Principal James Sunday.
But Sunday stressed they are taking all the necessary precautions and will be holding their commencement outdoors.
“Our priority is to make sure we get our guests in and out, and it’s a safe and a memorable event,” said Sunday.
Around 300 President William McKinley High School seniors will gather on the front lawn of the school campus in less than two weeks for their graduation according to its Principal Ron Okamura.
Okamura said they are also following guidelines. His biggest concern right now is the prom before graduation especially since the Hawaii Department of Health said they’ve identified several clusters linked to proms recently.
“We are concerned very much,” said Okamura. “Our senior prom is this weekend as well, too. So if students pick up the virus during that time, it’s definitely going to impact them whether they participate in commencement or not.”
Okamura said he will be offering students COVID test kits provided by the Hawai’i Department of Education to help prevent the spread.
“Use those test kits before you go to graduation,” urged DOH epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “That’s another way to make the ceremony safer. “
While some schools opted not to do project grad events, Lahainaluna High School is holding one according to the senior class advisor, Jackie Ellis. But she said they made several adjustments.
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“They set it up for a daytime event instead of being overnight just because they didn’t want to risk getting everything canceled again this year,” Ellis explained.