Gov. Ralph Northam today released preliminary guidance for how K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, may safely hold in-person graduation and commencement events this spring. These plans are expected to be included in an April 1 update to the statewide executive order governing the COVID-19 response.
Under the proposal, graduation events could be held outdoors with up to 5,000 people or 30% of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Indoor graduations would be capped at 500 people, or 30% of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Attendees would be required to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
“I appreciate the work that our schools, students, and teachers have put in to get back into the classroom safely, and the efforts of public health officials and education leaders in developing guidelines for safe graduations and commencements this spring,” Northam said in the announcement. “We are releasing this guidance early to allow schools to begin planning for this year’s events. While graduation and commencement ceremonies will still be different than they were in the past, this is a tremendous step forward for all of our schools, our graduates, and their families.”
Loudoun school leaders were already exploring options to hold graduations at the high school stadiums. That move was necessitated in part because the venue used by many of the county’s schools for their ceremonies, EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, is being repurposed as a COVID-19 vaccination site and has canceled its graduation contracts.
Last June, Loudoun’s high school graduates receive their diplomas in individual ceremonies held at their schools scheduled over the course of several weeks.