School says student who attended graduation ceremony later tested positive for coronavirus

Published 3:41 pm Thursday, May 28, 2020

An Alabama high school student who attended a graduation ceremony last week has tested positive for the new coronavirus, a school district announced Wednesday.

The student was awaiting test results when they attended Austin High School’s ceremony May 21, in Decatur, school officials said.

A member of the student’s family had previously tested positive, quoted Decatur City Schools Deputy Superintendent Dwight Satterfield as saying.

The district had 16 nurses checking students’ temperatures and asking them whether any family members tested positive or had symptoms, but the student and their family did not disclose that information, he added.

Graduates were kept 6 feet (2 meters) apart and families were also asked to keep 6 feet (2 meters) between other groups, according to the district.

Satterfield said that despite the guidelines, some students still gathered and hugged each other, though he defended the district’s decision to host the ceremony.

“I will put what we did at graduation against anyone,” Satterfield said. “There will be people second-guessing whether we should have had graduation or not. So be it, that will be a conversation for another day.”

Some Alabama schools began hosting in-person graduation ceremonies after the state eliminated rules limiting crowds to 10 people or fewer. Gatherings of any size were allowed starting in mid-May as long as people from different households stayed at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart. Other schools nationwide have canceled or postponed traditional graduation ceremonies to slow the spread of the coronavirus.