FORT WORTH, Texas - Fort Worth ISD moved two graduations up earlier in the day to avoid Tarrant County’s order requiring people to wear face masks in public.
The Eastern Hills High School and North Side High School commencement ceremonies were scheduled for Friday evening after the order goes into effect. But the ceremonies were close to being called off yet again.
The 1 p.m. ceremony at Clark Stadium in Fort Worth happened six hours earlier than originally scheduled. The scramble began Thursday after the county announced its mask mandate would begin Friday evening.
Tarrant County’s new order was issued Thursday in response to the record number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the county. It requires everyone inside of a business or at an outdoor gathering with more than 100 people to cover their face.
“To the people who are reluctant you know how the masks are uncomfortable and the masks are not cool and it’s my right. Well, the masks are uncool and COVID is uncomfortable. We’ve all got to take some responsibility during this pandemic and if masks are going to help us then let’s do it,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said in an interview on Good Day FOX 4.
Even still, safety was paramount at the ceremony.
“All you do is ask them if they’d like a mask. They say yes or no. Most say yeah,” said Sarah Walker, with Fort Worth ISD Security. “We can’t make them wear them, but the object is if we give it to you, we’d like for you to wear it.”
There was then another dilemma after Gov. Greg Abbot’s latest executive order limited outdoor gatherings to 100 or fewer people. It went to effect at noon on Friday.
But in the nick of time, the school district secured a special waiver from Mayor Price to continue the ceremonies.
Seniors who showed up at Farrington Field for the Dunbar High School graduation Friday morning said they were a little bummed about the idea of celebrating their achievement while wearing a mask. But they understand why it’s necessary.
“It’s going to be hot but hey... we gotta do anything to stay safe,” one student said.
“It’s new. It’s not what I expected it to be. I really wanted my family all to be here but I couldn’t,” added Esmeralda Ojeda.
“It’s kind of sad because it’s ugly. But I mean I guess just for our safety it’s okay,” Alexis Cortina said.