(WTVO) — Governor Prizker was asked about whether or not he would allow in-person graduatiuon ceremonies for high school seniors during Sunday’s press conference. The governor expressed sympathy for seniors who had their year abruptly ended and said that he understood how important a ceremony would be.
The Governor also pointed out the newly released guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education on maintaining a socially distant ceremony. Ultimately, IDPH is giving local school boards the decision on graduations.
While virtual ceremonies were encouraged, the schools were given a few options: One includes a drive-in graduation, similar to a drive-in movie. The department also suggested a prearranged individual ceremony where each student can schedule a time to come in to get their picture taken with their diploma.
IDPH released eleven specific guidelines for in-person ceremonies.
- Districts and schools should, if possible, ensure students receive diplomas and caps and
gowns in advance through the mail or delivery so they can arrive dressed and with their
diplomas in hand. Students or families may also collect these items at the school during
packet pick-up, meal distribution, or locker clean-out. Please ensure social distancing
guidelines are followed
- There may be no person-to-person contact during the ceremony. Individuals may not
hand students diplomas, or any other items, or shake graduates’ hands.
- Mark the standing locations of graduates waiting in line to collect their diplomas to
ensure students remain at least six feet apart at all times and mark safe walking pathways
for students exiting cars.
- Clearly communicate expectations and procedures related to photography. Districts and
schools should provide someone to take multiple pictures of all individual graduates and
provide the photos free of charge to families in order to reduce concern of missing these
important moments. Please ensure students and families are aware of photography
- Students may walk across a stage or area and pose for a picture individually.
- Anyone outside of their car must wear a mask or face covering. Individual students may
remove their masks or face coverings while having their individual photo taken by the
district or school. Only staff and a limited number of students may be outside of their
- Consider available space in order to calculate capacity and determine the number of
ceremonies needed. Consider limiting attendance and broadcasting the ceremony via a
livestream platform and recording the ceremony to provide access to those not in
- Consider the timing of when ceremonies take place. For individuals outside of their cars,
consider weather conditions, such as sun exposure, heat, and rain. Take appropriate
precautions related to weather protection. Consider if cars need to be turned off during
the ceremony. Only staff and a limited number of students may be outside of their cars.
- There should be no restroom access or refreshments to prevent areas of congregation and
additional areas to monitor. Students and families should be advised in advance that
restroom facilities and refreshments will not be available.
- Ensure that facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities and provide all necessary
accommodations for students with special needs.
- Set expectations, policies, and guidelines in advance, and reiterate those before the
ceremony day and at the start of the ceremony, to ensure overall health and safety
To see the full letter to schools, click here.
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