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Districts begin plans for COVID-safe graduations, proms

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 18:23:58-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Schools is expected to finalize plans for this spring's socially-distanced graduation ceremonies this week.

"Graduation is definitely a go," says Superintendent Rocky Hanna, "it's just a matter of what graduation is going to look like."

After hosting drive through graduation ceremonies last year due to COVID-19, Leon County School leaders, now considering whether to host graduation inside the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, or outside at Gene Cox Stadium.

"One of the things that we know for sure is kids want to walk across the stage and unfortunately just because of the situation that wasn't possible but this year we're going to make that into a reality," said Hanna.

He and principals will decide on Friday how best to give their 22,000 graduates that once-in-a-lifetime walk across the stage while socially distancing. What they won't be discussing is what to do about prom.

"If we had to make a decision today on January 28 it would be a no," said Hanna. "I mean I've attended senior prom, have chaperoned many proms as a school administrator and there's not a lot of social distancing that happens at a high school prom."

He says they may reconsider prom plans at the recommendation of local health officials.

While prom may be a no in Leon County, it is a go in Wakulla.

Superintendent Robert Pearce says they plan to host both graduation and prom for the district's 350 graduating seniors. Planning committees are working on socially-distanced plans like the in-person graduation they held at their stadium, and the open-air homecoming dance they held last fall.

We also reached out to districts in South Georgia. Cairo High School Principal Chris Lokey says before they make any changes to what they did last year, they'll need approval from the Georgia department of health and the state board of education.

"I'm sure that they're monitoring the COVID-19 numbers and that sort of thing. We were able to have graduation last year. We were not however able to have a prom. And that's according to their guidelines."

Leon County plans to announce its decision for graduation location on Monday.