LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lake County Public School District announced Friday afternoon that graduations would return to traditional processions following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to reopen all youth activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district had planned to host graduation ceremonies that would have kept spectators in their cars while graduates walked across a stage in their caps and gowns to receive diplomas and have their photos taken, but has since recalled that decision.
“We have always wanted to give our students a traditional graduation experience, but I had to work within the boundaries of the safety information we were given regarding large group gatherings,” Superintendent Diane Kornegay said. “Thanks to the governor lifting the restrictions, we can now give our students the experience we all want them to have.”
According to a news release, the LCPS School Board, County Commission, Department of Health, Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Operations Center all met following DeSantis’ announcement and collectively decided that traditional graduation ceremonies fit into the descriptor of youth activities.
“I was so excited to learn that Gov. DeSantis is allowing local communities to decide how to handle high school graduation ceremonies,” said County Commission Chairman Leslie Campione. “Once we learned of this news we immediately convened a meeting between the School District, Health Department and the County’s Emergency Management Team to formulate a plan to accommodate traditional graduation ceremonies combined with safety protocols, including live-stream opportunities for vulnerable and high risk family members. I’m so glad graduates and families will be able to celebrate this milestone together.”
The district said it would continue to work with local health officials to provide the safest ceremonies to students, families and faculty as possible, but warned that locations will change to outdoor football stadiums, which may require capacity limits. Leaders also said the district will maintain its plan to livestream the ceremonies so that physically compromised family members can watch from the safety of their homes.
While district leaders said some logistics still need to be hammered out, the “big question has been settled, much to the satisfaction of county leaders, students and families: Lake County’s Class of 2020 will have traditional graduation ceremonies surrounded by their loved ones.”