By MARINA WATERS
The Washington County Board of Education has made a decision on its safety guidelines for Daniel Boone and David Crockett’s high school graduations.
At the board’s Thursday, June 4, meeting held electronically, the school board opted to allow seniors to invite six guests to the graduation ceremonies set for June 19 and 20. At the ceremony, masks will be optional and temperatures will not be taken at the gate. Board members Jason Day, Mary Beth Dellinger, Chad Fleenor, David Hammond, Mitch Meredith and Keith Ervin voted in favor. Board members Annette Buchanan, Todd Ganger and Phillip McLain voted in opposition.
“Face coverings ought to be optional in my opinion,” Fleenor said. “You’re going out and you’re seeing all these protests that are going on there in Johnson City. And with this six-foot rule — there are 15 people within six feet of each other. Some have masks and some don’t … If you want to wear a mask you can wear one and if you don’t want to you don’t have to.”
McLain made the original motion to allow two guests per student to the ceremony which would require face masks and temperature checks at the gate, per Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary’s request. Fleenor then made the amendment to the motion, relaxing the requirements for the graduations.
School officials were also concerned about the number of guests allowed for each student.
According to Gov. Bill Lee’s Executive Order No. 38, which Flanary read aloud to the board, “more than 50 persons may sit in a set of bleachers and watch an event provided the persons or multiple groups of persons are spread out from one another and maintain at least six feet of separation from other groups of persons.”
“The administrations at both schools have measured every which way they can,” Flanary said. “I am requesting that the board allow each senior to have two tickets for guests.”
Ervin said he felt students should be allowed six guests because some families may include more than just two parents. He also suggested portable bleachers as well as standing area on the track be used for the excess amount of guests who can’t fit in the stadium’s seating.
“I think we should mandate six foot apart and let six tickets go out per person,” Ervin said. “You don’t have enough seating — you have enough area. Some will get to sit and some will have to stand.”
Because the ceremonies won’t include temperature checks and face coverings, Ganger suggested a sign listing three questions related to the COVID-19 virus be posted for guests to consider before entering the stadium. He said he felt guests should consider questions like if they’ve been in contact with someone with the virus. That motion passed unanimously.
“I would like to make a motion that we put signage out front stating the criteria if we’re not going to be taking temperatures,” Ganger said. “(We need) some kind of signage out front stating rules at the director’s discretion.”
The BOE will hold a called meeting on June 25. That meeting is scheduled to be held electronically. To view the meeting, go to wcde.org. The board will then hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, July 2.