The Walker County Board of Education is urging the public to take health precautions during tonight's commencement ceremonies.
Both the Jasper City and Walker County school systems are urging the public to take health precautions during tonight's commencement ceremonies.
Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood said he wants to encourage everyone attending graduations across the county to wear medical face masks or another form of facial covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Jasper High School principal Jonathan Allen posted a video on the Jasper High Facebook page earlier this week saying all faculty and graduates would be required to wear masks during graduation. A strong recommendation was made for anyone attending to also wear a mask.
Anyone attending is also asked to maintain social distancing.
Cases of coronavirus continue to climb in the state following relaxed health orders issued by Gov. Kay Ivey on May 11. Ivey's announcement on that day paved the way for graduation ceremonies by lifting the ban that prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people.
Walker County alone had 164 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of noon Thursday, with 65 new cases reported in the last two weeks. There has also been one death in the county. More than 13,000 cases have been reported statewide, and 300 or more new cases have been reported almost every day since the beginning of May.
At last week's meeting of the Walker County Board of Education, Hagood recommended that households and families sit together at graduation ceremonies and remain 6 feet apart from other groups of people.
"We will adhere as closely as we can to the social distancing guidelines, and we really implore our communities out there to respect that," Hagood said.
At the board meeting on May 14, Hagood also took the opportunity to thank many people for supporting the school system and its students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I just want to publicly say to the students, teachers, parents, and administrators what an excellent job they have done during this COVID-19 pandemic. Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you respond to it. I can say that our folks have definitely risen to the occasion," Hagood said. "Zoom sessions, school meet sessions, virtual classroom sessions, teachers reading to their students and posting YouTube videos — there's all kinds of stuff. So it's been really good to see that in times of crisis folks have really come together to do what's needed."
Hagood also thanked area legislators who have provided support during this time, as well as community agencies who have helped to feed children. He said churches, mayors, community centers, child nutrition departments, and others have also assisted the school system.
"I could go on and on," Hagood said. "It's been a terrible situation with the pandemic but you can see a blessing as a result of it by bringing folks together."
During the school board meeting Hagood also took a moment to recognize Parrish Elementary School for receiving a BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama Be Healthy Grant. He also recognized Carbon Hill Elementary School, Curry Middle School, Lupton Jr. High School, and Parrish Elementary School for being named ClassWorks All-Star Schools.