One piece of normalcy will return to South Florida’s high school seniors this year, as they’ll get to participate in a real graduation ceremony — with a few changes due to COVID-19.
They may get to invite only two guests this year, instead of the four to six from past years. Handshaking will be out; masks and social distancing will be in.
But for many seniors, it will beat last year’s ceremonies, which were all virtual. Seniors watched at home as photos of themselves and classmates flashed on a screen. Some communities and organizations improvised by holding drive-through ceremonies where students stayed in cars.
“We’re excited to return to traditional pomp and circumstance, and to give our 2021 graduates and their families an in-person graduation experience,” said Broward Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “We can’t wait to provide memorable and celebratory events that honor and recognize the Class of 2021.”
Broward plans to hold ceremonies June 4 to 10 at a variety of locations. Palm Beach County ceremonies will be June 3 to 19 at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
Miami-Dade school officials announced in February that they, too, were planning in-person graduations, but they were still working out the details. The district is closed this week for Spring Break.
“We are finalizing our graduation schedule and hope to release something soon,” Miami-Dade spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said.
Graduation ceremonies were called off last year at a time when all schools in Florida were closed due to the pandemic. This year, all schools have been open since at least mid-October, although most seniors have still been learning at home.
It’s unclear how many students will show up for graduation. The Palm Beach County School District expects some to stay home.
“After all the kids walk the stage, we’re going to put up the photos of all the kids not comfortable attending and their names will still be read,” said Claudia Shea, a spokeswoman for the district.
The capacity for each Palm Beach County ceremony will be limited to 1,740, socially distanced into 870 pods of two, Shea said. While students will be guaranteed at least two tickets, students who attend schools with smaller graduating classes may be able to get more, based on a principal’s discretion, she said.
Broward announced its official plans Tuesday. About half of the ceremonies will be at Nova Southeastern High in Davie. Some ceremonies will be held at the actual school, such as Pompano Beach High, Boyd Anderson High in Lauderdale Lakes and South Plantation high.
A few of the larger schools, including Nova High in Davie Cypress Bay High in Weston and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, are scheduled to be outdoors at Inter Miami CF Stadium, formerly Lockhart Stadium. It’s unclear what the rain contingency plan is.
A complete list of Broward graudation dates and times can be found at https://www.browardschools.com/BCPS2021Grads
Palm Beach County’s schedule is at https://www.palmbeachschools.org/cms/one.aspx?portalId=270616&pageId=12722891