D60 confers with Air Force Academy about risks of in-person graduation

posted Apr 30, 2020, 10:38 AM by Anthony Sandstrom
District 60 leadership and the Board of Education has done its due diligence to assess the option and risks associated with an in-person graduation ceremony similar to the one conducted at the United States Air Force Academy.  Recently, D60 reached out to United States Air Force Academy leadership in regards to the measures the Academy took to execute its April 18 graduation. 

The Academy's April 18 graduation, which took place more than a month before its originally-scheduled date, was an outdoor ceremony that was broadcast virtually. No visitors were allowed into the ceremony, which includes friends, family and faculty, and cadets were spaced six-to-eight feet apart at all times. 

In response to District 60's request, the Air Force Academy leadership shared the measures taken to ensure a safe graduation:

  • All freshmen, sophomores and juniors left the Academy in March and all cadets began distance online learning. 
  • Cadets were monitored continuously, given health screenings and living under isolation measures, which included isolating cadets one to each room in dormitories, and observing social-distancing at all times. If cadets showed any symptoms or were exposed, they were tested and isolated outside of the cadet area.
  • The base locked down to all but official business for the six weeks prior to graduation. Cadets were essentially under quarantine and strict social distancing guidelines, including cadet-only shopping hours at the commissary, grab-and-go meals on base, and more.
  • "Walking the stage" during the ceremony was prohibited in order to reduce any potential physical contact. Cadets were instead conferred degrees as a group. 
  • While cadets did not wear masks during the ceremony because they were properly distanced, all cadets wore masks traveling to and from the ceremony. Cadet movements were tightly controlled, and they all proceeded directly from their rooms to the mess hall for a health screening, and following the ceremony, they returned to their dormitories.

The Air Force Academy told District 60 in a statement: "We went to great lengths to keep our cadets healthy. While the U.S. Air Force Academy is an institution of higher education, we are also a military installation, and unlike most students across the country, 100% of our cadets live here on base and were in a mostly closed environment for the past six weeks. Our very unique ability to contain and control our cadet population presented a unique ability to do this. These are capabilities most schools don’t have and control measures they can’t implement."