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Tennessee asks schools to get creative for graduation ceremonies

Posted at 8:07 AM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 09:07:48-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's a lot of disappointment this year for graduating seniors who didn't get to finish their last year of high school. Now the State of Tennessee is encouraging schools to get creative to give seniors a proper send-off.

The Tennessee Department of Education just released some graduation guidelines to districts all across the state. While there are many ways to still celebrate, the state says safety needs to come first.

The decision to hold a ceremony is up school boards and superintendents. If they decide to hold one, they’ll need to work with their local health departments.

The state is asking districts to get creative, like holding graduation at a stadium with limited guests and practicing social distancing. They also suggested holding a drive-in style ceremony or even a drive-by ceremony at the school.

They also said it’s possible to hold several, smaller commencements.

“It's something where we're encouraging districts to share with one another. We've had a lot of creative ideas. We will update that guidance as we get more information and we appreciate the commitment that our districts have to celebrating our seniors. It's a big milestone and we know how important it is to our families,” said Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

Virtual graduations are also an option. The state says if schools want a traditional commencement, they can just postpone it until late summer or fall.

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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.