Contingencies in place for McAlester High School graduation

·3 min read

May 19—McAlester High School officials say plans are in place for Saturday's graduation ceremonies in case of inclement weather.

Commencement for the 200 members in the MHS Class of 2021 is set for 10 a.m. May 22 at Hook Eales Stadium as previously scheduled. But school officials said those plans could change with rain in the forecast and with the district's mask policy going back into effect.

Masks will be required if the commencement were to be moved indoors — but that could change as McAlester Public Schools Board of Education members are set for "discussion and possible board action to revise the District's mask wearing policy" during a special meeting at noon Friday.

Board members approved on May 10 a policy to do away with the district's mask requirement if the Oklahoma State Department of Health's weekly COVID-19 risk level map listed Pittsburg County in the green phase — but require mask if the county is in yellow or worse.

OSDH's weekly map determines each county's risk level, with the green risk phase indicating counties with fewer than 1.43 daily new cases per 100,000 population and the yellow risk phase indicates between 1.43 and 14.29 daily new cases. The agency releases the reports every Wednesday.

The district did not require masks after OSDH listed the county in green — but MPS reinstated its mask policy Wednesday when OSDH listed the county in yellow with 1.6 new cases per 100,000.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state anyone fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing "except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

Pittsburg County Health Department officials said May 10 nearly one-third of Pittsburg County's population older than 16 received at least one does of the COVID-19 vaccine.

MPS tracks and reports districtwide coronavirus data on its website — and reported zero students or staff testing positive or being quarantined as of Wednesday.

Weather also complicates commencement plans with the National Weather Service forecasting a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday.

McAlester school officials said graduation ceremonies will start as planned at Hook Eales Stadium at 10 a.m. Saturday if it's not raining at that time.

But if it's raining at 10 a.m., commencement will be postponed to 4 p.m. Saturday at Hook Eales Stadium.

If rain continues to 4 p.m., the ceremonies will be postponed to 7 p.m. Saturday at Hook Eales Stadium.

School officials said if rain continues to 7 p.m., the event will be moved to S. Arch Auditorium at 201 E. Adams Ave. in McAlester at that time.

Each graduating senior gets four tickets for attendees if the event is moved to S. Arch Auditorium due to the maximum capacity of 1,100. School officials said students were already notified.

School officials will announce any changes through eNote notifications directly to seniors and their parents, in addition to announcing changes on the MPS social media pages.

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com