Local district cancels plans for in-person graduation ceremonies

The Killeen ISD is scrapping plans for in-person graduation ceremonies because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. “This decision was not made lightly, but we must keep the health and safety of our community at the forefront,” the district said in a press release Thursday afternoon. Bell County health officials reported 68 new cases of the virus and another death Thursday. The state’s report, which includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post, rose to 1,009, an increase of 84.

“Capacity restrictions simply do not provide the ability to use the Bell County Expo Center at this time. We had hoped the delay would have enabled us to hold a more traditional ceremony, however the current circumstances have not provided this window of opportunity,” the district said in a press release Thursday afternoon.

Virtual graduations may be viewed on the district’s website.

The decision comes as the district prepares for a new school year, which is cloaked in uncertainty as officials await the release of Texas Education Agency guidelines.

The district released a summary of results of a parent survey Thursday that showed 86% of those who responded after concerned about the impact of the new coronavirus on their health and their households.

Fourteen percent said they weren’t concerned.

“This is significant because general concern about health is strongly correlated with viewpoints on how to reopen schools,” the district said in the summary.

Almost 70% of those who responded indicated they think most people in the community are not taking the COVID-19 situation seriously enough.

Almost 75% indicated they thought the district did a good or great job responding to the outbreak, 20% rated the response fair and 4% rated it poor.

But 58% of the parents who responded “indicated some type of technical issue with virtual / online learning” including device-related issues.