LEXINGTON — The Lexington school board heard updates about the district’s graduation plan during their meeting on Monday, June 8.

A format has been decided upon for Lexington High School’s delayed graduation, which was pushed back to Saturday, July 25, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LHS principal Kyle Hoehner said the plan is to hold the ceremony at Kirkpatrick Memorial Park and utilize the gazebo on the east side of the park for student speeches.

There will be no procession, but students will be sat in alphabetical order at the appropriate social distance in a corded off area. The rest of the space will be open for family, friends and the community to attend.

Hoehner said the park, unlike the high school gym or football field, provides enough space for people to gather safely.

There will be the traditional student addresses from those with the top five GPA.

Each graduate will be recognized, and as they already have their diplomas, they will be given a, “significant item,” Hoeher said, the item to be handed out is still being decided.

While the ceremony will not be its traditional length, Hoehner said it will all be focused on the seniors.

The Dawson County Historical Museum has already allowed the use of their parking lot for attendees and the district is reaching out to St. Ann’s Parish and the City of Lexington to secure additional parking spaces.

Hoehner said they also hope to work with the city to block off Taft and 11th St., during the ceremony to help cut down on the background noise.

The ceremony will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend in person. The school is also hoping to involve KRVN in a live radio broadcast of the event.

Hoehner said given the restrictions which have been in place, this is the best case scenario for the ceremony.

The school board also heard updates about school openings in the fall. The district has several plans ready, based upon what sort of directed health measures will be in place when it is time for school to start.

Superintendent John Hakonson said they anticipate updated guidance heading into July and are keeping tabs on the intentions of other areas schools. The advisory committee will work to finalize these plans. 

The options include a normal restart with some modifications, including personal protective equipment, PPE being available. The second is a hybrid A/B schedule with remote learning tied in. The last option is a completely remote restart.

To ensure equity among students, if remote learning is required, the school board approved the purchase of 1,100 iPads from Apple Inc. in the amount of $323,400.00.

Hakonson said money the district received from the CARES act will be used to pay for these devices. They would be used in the elementary schools in the event remote learning is required during the 2020-2021 school year.

Elementary students were not under instruction after Lexington schools closed in late March due to COVID-19. There was concern not every student would have equal access to materials or instruction.

The decision to replace these devices beyond the COVID-19 pandemic will be made at later time and depend largely upon the financial capacity of the district, Hakonson said. Cases will also need to be purchased separately, which will cost around $30,000.00.

Another purchase in this vein was that of 100 1gB Kajeet hotspots, including a 12 month rate plan for the cost of $25,704.00. This would also be paid through CARES act funding.

Hakonson said the district believes this is the best option for providing wifi to student’s who don’t have it currently in their homes.

The 2020-2021 school year will now begin on Monday, Aug. 17 thanks to the revised calendar which was approved by the school board.

The revised calendar assigns the entire first week of Aug. 10-14 to professional development for student mental health, technology, COVID-19 procedures, etc. to prepare for the return of students.

In a bit of housekeeping, the board approved a policy change which expands the higher education reimbursement program to include teachers taking grad classes to be able to add dual language credit classes for LHS students.

The board also approved three new hires, which were, Adam DeLaet, LHS social studies teacher, Kaylee Parsons, Bryan 2nd grade teacher and Keith Nielson, LHS welding teacher.

During the superintendent report, Hakonson congratulated the Class of 2020 for earning over $3,000,000 in scholarships, he also thanked the LHS counselors for helping students to apply.

The district is investigating the prospect of adding middle school soccer and bowling, which was recently recognized by the NSAA as an official activity, to their list.

The July 13 board meeting will return to the in-person format at the City of Lexington board room.