DES MOINES, Iowa (CBS Local) — Parents in the Des Moines, Iowa, public school district are circulating a petition to overturn the school board’s decision to hold graduation ceremonies online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The petition asks the school board to postpone virtual graduation ceremonies so they can be held as traditional, in-person events.
“It was just really disappointing to us when Des Moines came through with their decision to just, you know, do away with any sort of physical recognition for the kids and the hard work they’ve put into it,” Jessica Gathercole, the mother of an East High School senior, told CBS affiliate KCCI.
The petition on Change.org suggests that ceremonies could be held under strict rules.
DSM parents petition against virtual graduation during COVID-19 outbreak https://t.co/JaVattSKfR
— KCCI News (@KCCINews) May 4, 2020
“We could have there be a limit of attendance, such as only parents and/or guardians,” the petition page reads. “Also can go on a schedule alphabetically and certain times. To minimize risk and ease minds. Each high school could hold it at their football field.”
The petition, titled “DMPS Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony,” had more than 1,500 signatures as of noon Tuesday.
The school district said it formed a working group with representation from each high school to consider an outdoor ceremony but determined that a virtual graduation would be the safest during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We looked at doing something outside, perhaps one of our football fields or another outdoor venue, but at the end of the day we kept coming back to the likelihood that at best this was going to be a 50/50 proposition that such an event could be held,” said Phil Roeder, with Des Moines Public Schools.
The virtual graduation ceremonies are scheduled to begin Saturday, June 27.