Officials in Illinois issue guidance for school graduation ceremonies
On Saturday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued joint guidance
The outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in school building closures for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, and subsequently, questions have arisen related to school graduation ceremonies.
Officials said, "Decisions around whether or not to host safe and socially distanced graduation ceremonies will remain at the discretion of local school boards and superintendents. Districts and schools may choose to postpone graduation ceremonies, although it is not known when large-scale in-person events will be able to be safely held. Alternatively, districts and schools can choose to honor graduating students in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of participants and complies with state and local social distancing orders and guidelines."
Officials said they recognize the milestone that graduation ceremonies represent in the lives of students and families, and that the ISBE and IDPH are providing the guidance for public school districts, as well as public and nonpublic schools to consider when addressing their concerns at the local level.
Officials suggested non-traditional ceremonies, including, but not limited to: holding an online virtual ceremony, submitting videos, and highlighting graduates on social media.
They also suggested in-person graduation ceremonies that maintain social distancing guidelines such as: drive-in ceremonies with students and only their immediate family, where students could exit cars individually in their cap and gown, if available, to have photos taken while maintaining social distancing. Other suggested options were drive-through ceremonies, individualized ceremonies at school where students may come at prearranged times to walk across a stage, and individualized ceremonies where school officials could visit each graduate's home, while remaining outside and at least six feet away, and take photos of each graduate in their cap and gown.
IDPH and ISBE said if drive-in, drive-through, or individualized ceremonies are held, the following recommendations must be employed as appropriate:
IDPH and ISBE said districts should consult with local public health departments, law enforcement, and legal counsel when planning any in-person events.
"We congratulate all the graduates and their families and wish everyone the best for safe, healthy and happy graduation ceremonies," said IDPH and ISBE in their joint release.