Billings school administrators are exploring a new plan to hold graduation at MetraPark, Superintendent Greg Upham told school board trustees Monday night.
Upham told school board trustees at the Monday board meeting the plan for graduation in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak has been one big roller coaster ride.
Billings Clinic Foundation Director Jim Duncan and a disease control specialist will work with Upham to come up with a plan to safely hold the graduation inside the Metra. The move, if approved by the school board, would eliminate the unpopular graduation plan of only students in groups of 10 picking up their diploma in an empty auditorium.
"A lot of shifts and changes have occurred in the last week to get us here tonight," said Upham. "We need to go to the Metra and look and see what we can do."
Upham will tour the arena with Metra staff and Billings Clinic representatives later this week or early next week. They will be going through questions about spacing students, the flow of people, screening, use of face masks, and number of guests they can safely accommodate. They will need to have a plan to disinfect the arena after each graduation. Each of the three public schools will have around 400 students graduate.
Upham told the board they may have to split the classes in two and have graduations on two days. His preference would be to hold May 24 and possibly add May 23 as an additional date.
Billings has already voted to continue online-only classes for the rest of the school year to curb the spread of COVID-19.