Tucson Unified School District announced Wednesday they have authorized senior prom and graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2021.
Graduation ceremonies will be held outside each high school stadium and will follow safety protocols, including masks and physical distancing of 3 to 6 feet apart per CDC guidelines, Each graduate has a limit of four guests, each guest must have a physical ticket.
The graduation will also be on Livestream or Facebook Live, shared by each school.
TUSD Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said it's not mandatory, but officials are “strongly encouraging” all seniors to be fully vaccinated, or at least receive the first dose, if applicable, at least two weeks before the event.
Prom will be held outside at each high school with options of hosting prom in a large courtyard, stadium, or soccer field. Tickets will be sold on a pre-sale basis to ensure capacity limits.
Each school will determine whether to offer food, which would be prepackaged or provided by food trucks in a designated area with sanitized tables and handwashing stations located away from the main dance floor.
Trujillo said the activities can safely resume because of the increase in vaccine availability.
When TUSD staff was surveyed three weeks ago, more than half had been vaccinated, Trujillo said, with 4,600 out of 7,800 employees fully vaccinated or at least received their first dose. He estimates this number has probably increased since then.
The district has also been working with the Pima County Health Department, which affirmed that every day things are looking better, with the decreasing positivity rate of COVID-19. He also said the TUSD community has been “incredibly supportive” and has seen “both compliance and commitment to mask wearing from our guests, anytime.”
He said he made a commitment early on this year to pursue the possibility of facilitating a safe event for their seniors.
“I'm still troubled by my decision, and that's mine, I had to make it alone to cancel graduations last year,” laments Trujillo. “It's something that still kind of haunts me. It's something I have difficulty with personally and professionally, especially when I come into contact with Class of 2020 kids and though that contact is always positive and fun when I run into TUSD alumni, there's just a hint of sadness that they didn't get that experience.”
Trujillo hopes in June they might be able to offer a ceremony to the Class of 2020.
TUSD Offering Walgreens Vaccination Clinic For All Staff
TUSD finalized a deal with Walgreens to offer a three-day vaccination clinic for all employees, Trujillo said in a press briefing Thursday afternoon.
The clinic will be held next week - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - in the parking lot of the district office.
They are offering 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to TUSD employees, including bus drivers, counselors, substitute teachers and "anybody that works for Tucson Unified School District," said Trujillo. Employees can set up an appointment through their school, promoting is occurring internally through email, text messaging, and calls.
“They’re single-shot vaccines, so it's a tremendous opportunity for somebody to not have to deal with the two appointments, and it saves a lot of time,” said Trujillo.
As of Thursday afternoon, almost 300 appointments have been filled, but Trujillo hopes all 1,000 appointments will be filled by next week. Employees can make appointments during their workday to facilitate the process, said Trujillo.