Gov. Pritzker wants seniors to have in-person graduations, IDPH releases guidelines for schools

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(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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
    policies.
  5. Students may walk across a stage or area and pose for a picture individually.
  6. 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
    cars.
  7. 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
    attendance.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Ensure that facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities and provide all necessary
    accommodations for students with special needs.
  11. 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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