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Rural Parents, Students React To Ban On In-Person Graduation

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)  -- High school graduations will look much different this year.

State health and education officials banned large in-person ceremonies Friday - that includes high school gymnasiums and football fields. They are encouraging remote graduations and car parades without close contact.

"We really miss engaging with the kids. It's really hard to not see the kids and be with them on a daily basis," said Bonnie Jungles, principal at Holy Trinity School in Winsted.

The school believes the smaller the class, the stronger the bond. This year, 8 seniors have been fitted for their caps and gowns, but they may not even see each other in them.

"We've been waiting for the governor's guidance on what graduation could look like. We have not made a formal plan yet," said Jungels.

The high school gymnasium is where graduation is held every year at Holy Trinity. With only eight families, they feel they can safely spread out and still have a ceremony.

But the school may have another option if church services are allowed to return.

"So we, being a uniquely Catholic school may have the opportunity to have mass of social distance for a graduation ceremony," said Jungels.

As they put their faith in that, parents and future graduates reacted to the state's decision.

"Absolutely you can make an exception," said parent Katie Mendoza.

Mendoza's son Simon is a senior. She understands that safety is the priority. But she feels a once in a lifetime chance for a small class is being hurt by a big decision.

"I understand not having it in an enclosed space, but we have a huge football field and wide open spaces. Even if the number of people who attend is limited, I feel they should allow that to happen," said Mendoza.

"I'm just going to wear my cap and gown standing in front of my home taking pictures," said senior Mason Huynh.

Holy Trinity is also impacted by the cancellation of Winstock- A country music concert that is put on every year. Money from that goes to help fund the school. So now they are turning to online fundraising to help make up the difference.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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