Correction: This story has been corrected to say teens account for a rising number of COVID cases in Deschutes County. Central Oregon Daily regrets the error.
Parents of Bend High and Mountain View students are trying to give their kids something seniors didn’t have last year: a graduation night party.
Seniors at the two high schools have the option this year to travel with friends on a bus to Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho after graduation on June 6.
Crystal Young, a parent of a Bend High Student, said she’s glad students have the option to attend the grad night after a year of not being able to have so many other things, like prom and various sporting events.
“We decided it’s a good opportunity for us to provide our kids that have lost everything this school year with a celebration that is following guidelines, and if we didn’t do that, they would be planning their own parties where they probably weren’t safe and sober and they were not wearing masks and they weren’t socially distancing,” Young said.
The grad night is organized by parents and not sponsored by the schools or the district.
The lead organizers said strict COVID precautions will be in place for the grad night. Masks will be worn on the bus, temperatures will be checked and the event is mostly outdoors.
“We want to keep our kids and our community safe, so we feel like this is the best way to do it verses letting them just go rogue and plan their own things,” Young said. “We feel like that could put them at higher risk.”
Organizers have already raised more than $6,000 via GoFundMe for the grad night.
But some have hesitations about a large event taking place, just as teens account for a rising number of COVID cases in Deschutes County.
“We don’t encourage anything like this, and it certainly falls outside the OHA guidelines,” Emily Freeland, with Deschutes County Public Health, said.
Freeland said there’s still time for students who want to attend graduation parties to get vaccinated before graduation, which is around three weeks away.
“In these younger demographics, although some people are accessing vaccination, many many students are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated at this point,” Freeland said.
Freeland said it’s safest to stay masked, distanced and outdoors if you choose to attend a group gathering.