Orange County’s public high schools will hold their socially distanced in-person graduations for seniors at the Amway Center, superintendent Barbara Jenkins said after an Orange County School Board meeting.
The graduation will require face masks, limit the number of tickets per graduate, require everyone to social distance, and have strict arrival and departure procedures, which are all being developed in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County and the Amway Center.
Lake Nona High School’s graduation is set to take place at the Amway Center on Monday, May 24, at 2 p.m., according to OCPS.net.
OCPS has yet to finalize the details of the graduation but stated that the Amway Center location is subject to change if the arena’s availability shifts, according to the OCPS website.
Prom in-person is canceled; however, OCPS is planning a prom alternative that may not be virtual and has a senior drive-thru ceremony in the works, according to the website.
Graduates are not forced to attend the in-person graduation ceremony if they feel unsafe to do so. The ceremony will also be live-streamed for other family members who cannot attend or the graduates who don’t feel safe to go in-person.
As stated in the March 11 OCPS Community Update, 40% of OCPS students are still learning online while 60% now attend in-person. As of March 15, OCPS had a total of 5,105 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 – 3,378 of which were students – according to the OCPS’ COVID-19 Dashboard.
Many Florida counties are also offering in-person ceremonies. In Southwest Florida, Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties will be holding commencement ceremonies in June and May. Hillsborough County will also be holding in-person graduation ceremonies in May and early June. In South Florida, Palm Beach County announced they will also have in-person graduation ceremonies. Other counties across the state are still finalizing their plans for graduation.
Last year’s in-person graduation ceremonies, which typically take place at the University of Central Florida, were canceled due to the pandemic. This year’s in-person ceremonies mark the huge milestones that vaccines and a year of knowledge have made on the impact of COVID-19 on education.
Photo Courtesy of OCPS