With nine seniors graduating this year, Mackay schools Superintendent Susan Buescher said there is a possibility Mackay families might get a graduation ceremony that complies with social distancing guidelines.
Mackay school board members voted to not reopen school buildings this spring, like almost every school district in the country and to halt public gatherings.
Buescher said she and school board members are waiting until April 30, the last day of Gov. Brad Little’s current stay-at- home order, before making any definitive decisions about graduation.
Buescher says there there will be a ceremony for Mackay seniors, but it will not be on May 20, as had been scheduled. She expects it to get pushed to June.
Because the Mackay senior class is so small, Buescher said event organizers might be a able to pull off a small ceremony with a few alterations. Possible options for graduation include having it outside or organizing a drive-in ceremony, she said. For the drive-in option, Buescher said district staff might erect a large screen, set up a projector and shoot video of the ceremony. People could watch the screen from the safety of their autos.
Buescher recognizes the end result may not be an ideal graduation ceremony. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of Idaho and the rest of the nation have been a challenge for the district for the last month, and the immediate future doesn’t look any easier.
“What’s going to be different?” Buescher asked. “What if we have a surge in cases? If we reopen, will we have to split classes? I don’t know.”
Despite the uncertainties, Buescher said Mackay students are still being educated and fed. Mackay students have been learning at home using a combination of online learning and homework packets. Google Classroom and Google Meet are used by students and teachers to interact. Homework packets get delivered with lunches by district bus drivers.
Because students are learning at home and because of a state-issued waiver that reduces the number of required hours they need to move on to the next grade level, Buescher said Mackay students won’t be held back because of the coronavirus.
However, Buescher worries students aren’t getting a quality education while they are forced to learn outside of school. Online education can be a useful tool, but it can’t be the main medium of education, she said. Buescher believes online learning isolates students and deprives them of interaction with their peers and teachers. That could affect students negatively, because without the structure of school they might be less motivated to do assignments and learn the material.