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6 rules to follow for hassle-free, safe graduation day

Duval County district adds security for ceremonies around Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Extra security measures are in place now that graduation season is in full swing. 

The Duval County Public Schools district is making sure everyone is safe when it comes to security at commencement ceremonies.

But because of the increased security measures, lines are long and loved ones should be prepared to wait patiently.

"I would say get here early, because you are going to go through a lot of security to make sure nothing inappropriate is going in," said Kimberly Rusak, who attended her son's graduation Friday. "That’s why we came early, because we knew it was going to be a longer wait to get in because of that. It’s fine by me. Better safe than sorry."

WATCH: Officers, guards patrolling graduation ceremonies

Police officers were in place at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Friday, and members of the Security, Athletic Facilities & Events, or S.A.F.E., Management security team checked visitors as they entered the building.

Before you walk through the metal detectors, you'll be asked to drop items in a bin. If the metal detector goes off, security personnel will use wands to check you further.

Visitors appreciated the new guidelines, which include limited bag size and no balloons.

"It’s worth it, if it doesn’t happen to us like some of the other things that are happening," said Barbara Lane, who watched her granddaughter graduate Friday. "I think getting there slow is better than not getting there at all."

Four graduation ceremonies are scheduled Friday at different venues around Jacksonville.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: DCPS Graduation Schedule 

The school district is encouraging everyone to plan ahead and know the rules so you don’t miss the festivities.

Rules to Follow

  • Make sure that your bag is not too big. Bags must be smaller than 12 inches high and 12 inches wide. It is suggested that you NOT bring camera bags or handbags. 
  • Strollers must be checked in the lobby and cannot be brought into the ceremony because they pose a trip hazard, according to DCPS.
  • Helium balloons are not allowed in any venues.
  • Banners and non-helium balloons can be checked at the door and picked up after the ceremony.
  • Be prepared to pay for parking. Not all venues have free parking so you may need to pay, especially if you're going to be parking downtown.
  • Arrive early so you don’t miss any of the festivities. Graduation will start on time.
  • Police presence

    Officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will provide extra security at elementary schools in Duval County for the remainder of the year.  

    The decision to request additional security is a precaution in light of the recent shooting at a Texas high school that left 10 dead. 

    READ MORE: More security at Duval County elementary schools after Texas shooting

    School resource officers are already in place at middle and high schools.