Based on talks with local health authorities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hermann school officials on Monday announced a move outdoors for this weekend's graduation ceremonies.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Smith told the Advertiser-Courier that graduation will now be held at 8 p.m. Sunday in the high school stadium. Prom will be held from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Rotunda, located in Hermann's Upper City Park.
"All of this is due (to) working with our (Gasconade County) health department and (Hermann Area District) hospital officials," Smith said. Those authorities provided input on whether or not to hold both events indoors -- in light of seeking to assure safety because of the ongoing virus -- for school administrators to consider in reaching their decision.
Smith said the conversations also focused on concerns over a potential increase in coronavirus cases, both in and near the county, as reasons for holding graduation and prom outside rather than in the high school gym and at Valentine Hall, respectively.
"We strongly encourage participants of any of the events to be wearing masks," he said. Social distancing will be followed as much as possible, and hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the venues. Those who have been ill, or shown any symptoms or other signs related to the virus, are asked to stay home.
Other high school end-of-the-year events that have been planned and then delayed by the virus will be held outdoors, added Smith. That includes graduation practice on Thursday, followed by a seniors' barbecue. Project Graduation will be held in St. Peter's, Missouri, with seniors leaving campus after they receive their diplomas with covers.
Families of each of the 63 graduating seniors will have eight tickets at their disposal, to distribute as they please to their chosen guests.
Those attending graduation at the stadium should park in either the high school or middle school lots. Tickets must be presented before entering the field. The stadium lights will be switched on for the commencement exercises.