How Florida districts plan to hold in-person graduations

Some districts increasing number of guests each student can invite
By: | March 15, 2021
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Several large Florida school districts will hold in-person high school graduations, and are now announcing a wide range of COVID safety precautions.

Pasco County Schools will increase from two to four the number of guests each student can invite.

“We know how important it is to the graduates to walk across the stage and receive their diploma in person,” Superintendent Kurt Browning said on the district’s website. “And we know how important it is to have family there to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The graduations will be held at each school’s stadiums, where two of the guests can sit with the graduate on the field. The two other guests will sit in the bleachers.

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In a district survey, Hernando School District students said they wanted to invite more guests to smaller ceremonies. Each high school will therefore hold two ceremonies outdoors.

Hillsborough County Public Schools, which covers Tampa, will give each graduate two guests tickets that will include assigned entrances and seating inside the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall.

Everyone in attendance will be required to wear masks but there will not be temperature checks at the ceremony.

Hillsborough County high schools will develop a system to track which tickets have been distributed to each student. The expo hall, in turn, is planning to upgrade the air filters in its HVAC system, following CDC recommendations.

In nearby Polk County Public Schools, a number of high schools will hold their ceremonies in their outdoor stadiums.

Each graduate can invite four guests, who will be assigned check-in times to arrive to reduce crowding at entrances. Graduates will sit socially distanced, the ceremonies will be condensed to an hour and there will be no handshakes.

The district also made it clear that graduations are not mandatory, as some students and staff may not feel comfortable attending.

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