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Good morning/afternoon/evening Arthur CUSD #305 depending on when you are taking a moment to read this message.  As you are aware we communicated the message yesterday from the Illinois State Board of Education that provided clear rules and guidelines that schools were to follow as it related to graduations and graduation ceremonies.  This clearly disrupted and challenged us administratively as we had been working on multiple options for providing our Seniors opportunities to be honored.  

 Emotions are high right now and we are right there with all of you in experiencing those emotions.  We have been working tirelessly in creating plans and opportunities that both honor our Seniors, while abiding by the guidelines set forth from the Governor and the Illinois State Board of Education.  The provided guidelines have been altered and changed multiple times which has posed some serious challenges for us administratively.  We felt like we had a solid plan developed, but the language that was clarified by the Illinois State Board of Education forced us to go back to the drawing board.  

We want to clear up any confusion that may be out there regarding our plans moving forward, and we hope that this message will help.  We have learned today that the rules and regulations that were just handed down by the Illinois State Board of Education yesterday may be altered or changed again.  We received word this morning that they are consulting with the Illinois Department of Health to potentially redefine the rules for ceremonies or celebrations moving forward.  Listed below is the tweet that ISBE sent out this morning.  

ISBE tweet:  “We know how important graduations are in the lives of students, and ISBE is developing updated recommendations for graduation ceremonies in consultation with the @IDPH to align with the new disaster proclamation and updated stay-at-home order that @GovPritzker enacted yesterday.”  

The roller coaster of emotions are tough for all of us to manage and for that we apologize.  We are grateful that you continue to be patient with us and understand the difficulty of managing this situation. We ask that you continue to work with us as we try to manage the many different orders, directives, rules and regulations we are trying to filter through.  

At this time we would like to clarify what we plan to do moving forward.  We had to cancel the parade due to yesterday’s order, but we are still planning to hand out the cap and gowns this evening from 4pm-6pm.  We have been consulting with a professional videographer to put together a professional virtual graduation experience for our Seniors.  Specific directions for that process will be provided in the cap and gown packets tonight.  If there are any questions related to those directions, please reach out.  We think this video experience will be a wonderful keepsake for our Seniors and our hope is that it provides a lasting positive memory of their Senior year.  

In addition to the virtual graduation experience, we have also been exploring the possibility of still providing an in-person graduation ceremony.  We have explored many options for this experience which include hosting it outside.  As mentioned, this does continue to be a challenge as the rules and regulations seem to change just as we finalize a plan to move forward.  We would like to provide a date(s) in which we plan to host an in-person ceremony with the understanding that the date(s) and or the possibility of hosting any in-person ceremony could be altered or cancelled based on information that we get from the State.  Tentatively, we are exploring two possible dates, one in late June and one in late July.  This will hopefully provide us options that will insulate us from future possibly changes handed down from the State.   Details related to the actual ceremony will be released at a later time when we receive more definitive information from the State.  

It is our hope that we will be able to provide our Seniors with the celebrations and honors they so deserve.  We are working hard and trying to develop plans that will be sensitive to the ever changing environment we are working in these days.  Thank you for your understanding and patience as we continue to navigate this together.  We hope you have a wonderful weekend.