GIPS to hold in-person prom, graduation

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 5:05 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Families, students and staff have made many sacrifices in the last year due to COVID-19, including having a virtual graduation for the class of 2020. That won’t be the case this year.

Thanks to that collective and steadfast commitment to safety, GIPS and Grand Island Senior High School are excited to announce that the graduation commencement and prom will be held in-person this year.

“It has been a chaotic school year at times, but we have all worked very hard to keep moving forward,” said Senior Class President Diana Barragan Bedolla. “I’m very proud of all of us. I couldn’t be any happier to get a bit of normalcy at the end of the year and to be able to celebrate our achievements together.”

GIPS recognizes that while there are many ways to create memories, if measured safety protocols are put in place, returning these opportunities for students and their families is possible.

Masks will be required for the duration of both events, and specific safety protocols have been outlined for guests.

“Prom and graduation are formative experiences for so many, and our district really zeroed in on trying to provide them for our students this year,” said GIPS Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover. “As we continue to keep students in school, safety is paramount. The district also understands that opportunities like prom and graduation are a critical part of the high school experience. To be able to bring these milestone events back for our students says a lot about the safety protocols we have in place at the district level, and the collective dedication our community and district has made to preserve throughout the pandemic.”

The GISH graduation ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 16, and will be held at Memorial Stadium. Each graduate can be accompanied by up to six spectators. Streaming options will also be available for those unable to attend.

Prom will be held from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, at the GISH West Gym.

“We knew that if these events were going to be held in person, that safety protocols would be critical,” said Grand Island Senior High School Principal Jeff Gilbertson. “We are extremely happy to be able to safely plan and implement our face-to-face spring events, including prom and graduation. Our senior class officers were key decision-makers in thinking creatively and advocating for their fellow peers. I’m proud of the work our students put in to make these events as safe as they can be.”

Class officers developed a comprehensive outline for the event, which was presented to the district’s Pandemic Team for approval. It includes an online form so attendance can be accurately reflected and group identification can be expedited if post-event contact tracing is necessary. Each attendee will need to sign up for a time slot that is based on approved hours and staffing. Groups will attend the event as a “pod,” which consists of no more than 12 students. These pods will be isolated from other pods and provided with a specific area of the dance floor upon checking in.

There will be a cleaning period in between time slots that covers everything from the dance floor to the disposable coverings on high-contact areas.

In lieu of normal food options, a “goodie bag” will be provided near the building exit with prepackaged snacks and drinks. There will not be a post-prom event this year.

GIPS invested in Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology, which was installed over winter break. This air-purifying technology releases billions of ions into the air stream to neutralize harmful molecules. It will be operational throughout the entirety of the event.

“Grand Island Public Schools is excited to bring back these spring opportunities for students and their families,” said Dr. Grover. “Our district continues to reimagine possibility inside and outside of the classroom.”

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