News Staff Report
As guidelines and restrictions have changed, so have plans for the Class of 2020 graduation.
Last week, principals of the county’s three public high schools had a plan in place, but that was changed when the Escambia County Board of Education met Thursday, May 14.
The new plan, which follows the parameters of Gov. Kay Ivey’s Stay-at-Home Order and is based on guidance from the Alabama State Department of Education, is for ECHS graduates to receive their diplomas together Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m., in Herbert Barnes Stadium, instead of individually inside Hodnette Auditorium.
Ivey issued an amended order recently that provides flexibility for school districts to hold a more traditional type of graduation ceremony to recognize the Class of 2020. However, the ceremonies must remain in compliance with both social distancing and safety parameters.
The following guidelines will be in place at ECHS:
- Social distancing guidelines requiring six feet between members of different households will be enforced prior to, during, and after the ceremony. For this reason, each senior will be allowed to invite 4 guests to the ceremony. All children, including infants, will be required to have a ticket.
- It is strongly recommended that all guests wear a face mask.
- Strict compliance with all Alabama Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control guidelines will be enforced.
- Neither graduates nor their families will be allowed to take pictures in the parking lot or socialize outside prior to the ceremony.
- Once visitors have parked, they will be directed from vehicles into the stadium. In an effort to adhere to local and state guidelines, attendees will not be allowed to remain in their vehicles or to congregate along the fence line.
- Once family members enter the stadium, they will be directed to a designated seat. Seats will be arranged in groups of four, and visitors will be shown where their seats are located. No more than four people will be able to sit in each designated area, and attendees must remain in their designated seat for the duration of the event.
Guests may take pictures from their seats but will not be allowed to leave their seats to do so.
- At the conclusion of the ceremony, senior graduates will march from the stadium to an assigned area. At that point, they will collect their essential belongings and documents and return to their vehicles for immediate departure.
- Spectators will be dismissed by sections, in an orderly fashion, and must immediately return to their vehicles and disembark. People will not be allowed on the field after the ceremony.
“We are aware that this is not the ‘normal’ way to conduct graduation, and we wish that we did not have to apply all of these guidelines,” Knott said. “However, we are excited about celebrating and honoring our graduates.”
The graduation ceremony for J.U. Blacksher graduates will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 1, at John Sawyer Memorial Stadium, weather permitting.
This year’s commencement exercise will mark the first time in school history that JUB has held a graduation where admittance is by ticket only.
Each graduate will receive eight tickets, and no one will be allowed to attend the ceremony without a ticket.
The graduation ceremony is considered a private event for graduates and their guests only. The general public will not be allowed.
In case of inclement weather, graduation will be held in the gym. There will be three ceremonies – 5:30 with 20 students, 6:30 with 20 students, and 7:30 with 19 students.
Eight Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies will provide security and will help make sure there is no loitering or congregating among groups before or after the ceremony and that guests sit where they are supposed to.
Although it is not mandatory, graduates and guests are strongly advised to wear masks.