The Kentucky Department of Education has released new guidance for school districts related to graduation and other spring activities.

On March 8, KDE released a new COVID-19 guidance document to assist districts in preparing for traditional spring activities. In the document, KDE acknowledges Kentucky’s decrease in COVID-19 case numbers and increases in opportunities for COVID-19 vaccinations. However, it urges districts to use caution in planning community events as the virus continues to circulate, with the impact of new variants of the virus still unknown.

“Local education agencies must maintain a delicate balance between appropriately honoring students while managing the challenges and realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the document. “Schools and districts have options, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The Kentucky Department of Education encourages districts to engage students and families to determine the best solution for their community. It is recommended that you also consult with local public health officials to ensure all of the appropriate COVID-19 mitigation strategies have been considered.”

The document guides schools and districts on how best to handle traditional spring activities, like commencement, proms and honors ceremonies, while complying with state and local public health guidelines.

When planning for spring activities, schools and districts must continue to adhere to the KDE’s current health and safety expectations, which includes appropriate social distancing, cloth face coverings, screenings, sanitization efforts and contact tracing. School officials are also encouraged to be flexible when planning their activities, due to the evolving pandemic situation, and to be creative with their approaches in order to make the events special for them, their students and their students’ families.

“Faculty and staff have had to come up with innovative ways to teach students during the pandemic, both remotely and in person, and that creativity can be applied to graduation and other end-of-year events,” according to KDE. “As we have learned this year, what seems negative at the time can have a silver lining. So, try to come up with the most creative, meaningful and enjoyable ways you can to give students and their families some positive memories as the school year ends.”

More guidance and resources can be found on KDE’s COVID-19 webpage, https://education.ky.gov/comm/Pages/COVID-19-Updates.aspx.