Gov Abbott, TEA issue new guidelines for businesses, graduations

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San Antonio Current

Abbie Chaloupka, Writer

The coronavirus has caused most people in Texas to stay home and/or practice social distancing for over two months now. Governor Abbot issued a new executive order on May 5, 2020, allowing some businesses and restaurants to open. Full details of the proclamation can be read on gov.texas.gov.

Under the latest order, retail companies and dine in restaurants were allowed to open at 25% of their maximum occupancy. Restaurants can still provide drive through and pick up services for the people who don’t want to go inside yet. Movie theaters, malls, and museums were also allowed to start operating with 25% capacity or less.

Effective May 8, hair and nail salons and tanning salons were allowed to open if they could ensure six feet of social distancing between workstations. Swimming pools were also given permission to open with 25% occupancy.
School will, however, remain canceled for the rest of the 2019-2020 year.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) issued guidance for graduation and end-of-year promotion ceremonies on May 5. Schools can, of course, have virtual ceremonies at any time.

A second option is to hold “hybrid ceremonies,” which would be a compilation video of students filmed individually or in small groups. These can take place effective May 15 but must comply with the guidance on Minimum Standard Health Protocols on Visits to Schools During Campus Closures.

A third option is to hold “vehicle ceremonies.” Members of the same household (five individuals or fewer, excluding the graduate) may be present in a vehicle with the graduate. A number of Denton County schools are hosting their commencement ceremonies at the Texas Motor Speedway this year to maintain social distancing and safety.

Finally, TEA is allowing outdoor in-person ceremonies, which is what Melissa High School has decided to have. Rural counties with few COVID-19 cases can start hosting outdoor ceremonies on May 15 while counties such as Collin County must wait until after June 1.

The MHS commencement is scheduled for Fri., June 5, at 8:00 p.m. in Cardinal Stadium. The graduates are limited to four guests and each must complete an electronic questionnaire before entering the stadium to ensure they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. The ceremony is closed to the public; however, it will be streamed on the school’s Facebook and YouTube accounts.

The MHS prom has officially been canceled this school year since there is simply no way to practice social distancing and celebrate with approximately 250 students.

Rules in Texas are starting to loosen up and, hopefully, MHS students will be able to enjoy summer with their friends.