El Paso County’s in-person graduation variance plan approved


COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) approved graduation plans submitted by El Paso County.

El Paso County Commissioners unanimously approved a variance request for high school graduations earlier this month.

Public Health created guidance for Superintendents to be able to plan graduation ceremonies for the 2019-2020 school year.

This guidance will allow schools, students, families, and the wider community to celebrate the accomplishments of graduates in a medically sound way that limits the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

The CDPHE issued a letter Thursday to Health Director Susan Wheelan saying:

“The data and information included in your request demonstrates that El Paso has lower rates of COVID-19 cases than many other front range communities, and is currently experiencing a sustained decline.

With respect to the specific terms of the graduation variance request, we agree with the terms
you propose and in particular we appreciate your approach of having all school graduation plans
reviewed and approved by your agency. We suggest these additional measures be considered
during your review to further mitigate the potential spread of disease:

● Students should be encouraged to avoid vulnerable persons for the two weeks following
their participation in the graduation ceremony.
● Communication to the students should include a recommendation that they do not
participate if a family member is vulnerable.

We further strongly recommend that the El Paso County Public Health observe the first few
graduation ceremonies in person to judge whether all requirements are being met.

This variance approval is granted based on the facts and circumstances today as you have
described them in your request; however, should circumstances change such that, for example, surges in COVID-19 transmission occurs, cases exceed the capacity for El Paso County to fully
implement all effective disease control strategies as described in your request, or if resources
or COVID-19 prevalence statewide in our opinion requires a different approach, CDPHE
reserves the right to modify or rescind this variance approval. This approval is in effect until the
final expiration of PHO 20-28, which currently is set to expire on May 26, 2020, but may be

This comes after the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners voted Thursday to ask the state for another variance that would allow the county’s restaurants to reopen for limited dine-in service.

While there are many pieces to coordinate with El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH), Academy School District 20 are planning to hold graduation ceremonies on the following dates: 

  • Air Academy High School – June 22, 2020
  • Discovery Canyon Campus High School – June 23, 2020
  • Liberty High School – June 24, 2020
  • Pine Creek High School – June 25, 2020
  • Rampart High School – June 26, 2020

At any time, ASD20 may be asked to hold a virtual graduation. If that happens, virtual graduations will be held on the same dates listed above. 

School District 11 is also moving forward with virtual and modified in-person graduation plans in June, as follows:

  • Monday, June 22, Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus combined schools (Achieve Online, The
  • Bijou School, Odyssey Early College and Career Options, Tesla Educational Opportunity
  • School)
  • Tuesday, June 23, Palmer High School
  • Wednesday, June 24, Mitchell High School
  • Thursday, June 25, Coronado High School
  • Friday, June 26, Doherty High School

All D11 ceremonies will start promptly at 8 a.m., and schools will communicate more details as the plans are developed.

Additionally, the D11 virtual graduations for each school will be held next week. The dates, times and links for viewing those ceremonies are as follows. Please note the links will not be live until the time of each graduation:

  • Doherty: May 19, 9 a.m., https://youtu.be/c1V8-winMP4
  • Coronado: May 19, 3 p.m., https://youtu.be/JvzR3mdSFFQ
  • Mitchell: May 20, 9 a.m., https://youtu.be/wdyhNDiGlf0
  • Palmer: May 20, 3 p.m., https://youtu.be/LBinYkOAjyE
  • Odyssey: May 21, 9 a.m., https://youtu.be/TsOikrIs8WM
  • Bijou: May 21, 1 p.m., https://youtu.be/hgyi5cwSGUs
  • Achieve: May 22, 9 a.m., https://youtu.be/zhY0zQIxz-Q
  • Tesla: May 22, 1 p.m., https://youtu.be/uYdrc1fiK-g

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