El Paso County, CO, May 5, 2020 – At today’s El Paso Board of County Commissioners meeting, Commissioners passed a resolution requesting a variance to allow local school districts to hold alternative high school graduation ceremonies. The waiver was requested under the provisions outlined in Public Health Order 20-28. The resolution passed 4-0 with one Commissioner excused due to a family emergency. The resolution text is attached to this e-mail.
“Moving ahead with high school graduations is immensely important to both honor our area seniors but also restore a sense of normalcy for students and families in their lives,” said Board Chair Mark Waller. “Passing this resolution isn’t something that is just nice to happen, it is something that needs to happen. I am confident this will be a precursor to additional variance requests to come in the future.”
“It’s important to preserve these traditions and create memories for our seniors,” Board Vice Chair Longinos Gonzalez, Jr. stated. “As a teacher, I’m supportive of finding a way to let our area seniors experience their graduation. I’m also interested in voting on a variance to similarly accommodate local restaurants and churches once Public Health and area hospitals have developed the right plan.”
“This is a beautiful example of what the County, Public Health, and our hospital systems can do when they work together,” Commissioner Cami Bremer said. “There’s been so much focus on what we can’t do, this is a great example of applying our medical knowledge to see what we can do.”
“I hope the State approves this variance quickly and doesn’t tell our community to restart the process,” said Stan VanderWerf, Commissioner from District 3. “I appreciate all the hard work so many people put into this variance to make it happen. I am so hopeful we will be able to do more of these in the near future.”
The variance request is the culmination of the work done by County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly, Public Health Director Susan Wheelan, County Attorney Diana May, Safe2Tell Founder Susan Payne, and many area school superintendents, hospital officials, and many other community partners. Dr. Walt Cooper and Tom Gregory, the superintendents for Cheyenne Mountain and Academy School districts, respectively, spoke in favor of the resolution. The resolution will be transmitted to Governor Polis for approval.