CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County District Schools Superintendent David Broskie on Wednesday announced finalized plans for in-person graduations.
The July 17 ceremonies will be different than in years past, Broskie said, with limited tickets and face masks highly encouraged.
“One of the main reasons why we pushed the graduation ceremony to July 17 was in the hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic would be better,” Broskie said. “Given our current circumstances in our state and the surrounding area, it would be ill-advised to host as our graduation ceremony in the same fashion that we’ve done in previous years.”
Clay County, along with the entire state, has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. As of Wednesday, there were 729 reported cases in the county and 34 deaths since the pandemic began.
Broskie said the graduating seniors had pushed for an in-person ceremony while some districts around the state held virtual ceremonies to slow the spread of the sometimes deadly disease.
The superintendent said the school district has worked alongside emergency management to create a plan that will allow for social distancing in the stadiums by limiting the number of tickets to two per student, having designated and marked seating areas on bleachers for parents and graduates being placed six feet apart.
“We are highly encouraging the use of face coverings for all in attendance,” Broskie said. “And the graduating seniors will be provided a face-covering by the school if they choose to wear one.”
All commencement ceremonies will be live-streamed by each school.
Ceremonies will begin at 8 p.m.
Seniors will be surveyed by the district to find out if they will participate in graduation.
GRADUATION UPDATE | All high schools will hold traditional graduation ceremonies on Friday, July 17th at 8 p.m. Please view this update from Superintendent Broskie regarding increased safety measures. https://t.co/MhRLr8ALSK— Clay County District Schools (@oneclayschools) July 1, 2020
Broskie’s announcement was a sigh of relief for many students and parents.
“I’m glad Clay County has decided to work through some of the challenges and allow them to partake in that decision,” said Chris Riddle.
But Riddle added the ticket limit means she won’t get to see her stepdaughter graduate from Middleburg High School.
“As far as allowing two tickets, that hurts my family because she does have a large family. I mean, I wouldn’t take that away from her mom and her dad to allow her to see her graduate. For me, being a bonus parent, it’s really hard for us to not being able to see her graduate,” Riddle said. “I get the safety precautions and taking the extra steps to allow them to graduate, but every family is different.”
Some parents agreed with Riddle on the News 4 Clay County Facebook page. One woman said she has family members who have to cancel flights because of the ticket restriction. Other parents commented, thanking the school district for in-person graduations.