Courtesy of Joseph Triolo
Following new Covid restrictions, WSHS’s graduation ceremony will commence with no social distancing and no mask requirement; masks are recommended for unvaccinated individuals though.
Northam changed his initial plan of reopening VA on June 15th to May 28th to follow CDC recommendations that vaccinated individuals have a low risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. The new restrictions, however, do call for school events on school grounds to keep distancing and masks due to low vaccination rates amongst students. Even though the graduation ceremony is a school event, it will be held at Jiffy Lube Live. Holding the ceremony at Jiffy Lube Live allows the ceremony to not adhere to the restrictions for school activities because it is not on school grounds.
The CDC recommends that “schools continue to use the COVID-19 prevention strategies outlined in the current version of CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools for at least the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic school year.” They explain that vaccination rates are still low amongst students, and that many students have either just become eligible or are still unable to receive a vaccination. In fact, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, only 30% of parents in the US are willing to vaccinate their children at the current time.
All of these changes come as the statewide positivity rate is at one of its lowest points, hovering around 2.5%, and most other metrics are trending downwards. One notable break from the trends is that the reproduction rate of COVID-19 has increased in Virginia’s Northern region. In fact, all regions but Northwest have seen a rise in COVID-19 reproduction rates. Vaccinations have also continued trending downwards, prompting concern.
“This means adults are no longer getting vaccinated at rates they were in April. To keep up with the improving case rates we’ve observed in recent weeks, vaccination uptake must continue,” a release from The University of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Health states. Both the VDH and UVA have been working together to watch trends and create forecasts regarding COVID-19. “This weekend brings greater opportunity for virus transmission. The Memorial Day holiday is traditionally a time for social gatherings and this year, it coincides with further loosening of restrictions. Despite important successes in recent weeks, over half of Virginians are not yet fully vaccinated and are still at risk for COVID infection. Until fully vaccinated, public health precautions remain necessary.”