The coronavirus outbreak has reshaped school instruction and activities for students in Hampton Roads and across the country.
With the official school year coming to a close, there's one milestone occasion that won't be the same for thousands of students: graduation ceremonies. School systems are changing up their traditional commencement plans in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines and keep students and their families as safe as possible during the ongoing pandemic.
That goes for school systems across Hampton Roads, as well. We've compiled a list for each division in the region and how it's planning to handle graduation celebrations for the Class of 2020.
Please note some school systems have not issued plans to us yet. This list will be updated as we get more details.
Chesapeake Public Schools will also work to put on an in-person commencement in August at the Chartway Arena.
Similar to VBCPS, each Chesapeake high school will be holding individual, in-person Senior Celebrations from June 1 to June 5 where students can walk across the stage in cap and gown attire, receive their diplomas, yearbooks and other gifts and get their pictures taken, as well.
The school system has reserved the Chartway Arena from August 10-14 for an in-person ceremony. However, that event will be held only if circumstances from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak improve in the next few months.
We haven't seen graduation plans from the city of Franklin, but city officials found a way creative away to honor the Class of 2020 by posting banners around the city of the class's senior portraits.
All banners will be hung by May 22.
Gloucester County graduates will have to set individual appointments to show up to their high schools in cap and gown and receive their diplomas.
These individual graduation ceremonies will be held throughout the week of June 15 in each high school's auditorium.
The ceremonies will be brief, but there will be a photographer there to take every senior's photo for family members who cannot attend the intimate graduations.
Learn more here.
Hampton City Schools will be hosting a live, virtual graduation ceremony, but will also give their graduates a chance to receive their diplomas in full graduation regalia.
During the virtual graduation ceremony, graduates' names will be called a photo of the graduate will be shown. Some of their peers including the valedictorian, salutatorian and senior class president will also speak.
The school division will also be putting on a commemorative photo session that will take place outside Hampton Coliseum. The graduates will be able to walk across a stage and have their names called by their school principal.
This will take place June 1 and June 2 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and June 3 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As for an actual cap and gown celebration, high school seniors will need to set an individual date and time to come pick up their diplomas in a drive-through and curbside celebration.
Graduates will be asked to remain in their vehicles in cap and gown and they will receive vehicle signage and a Class of 2020 yard sign.
Each graduate will also receive a commemorative graduation coin to celebrate and preserve the memories of this significant milestone for the Class of 2020.
Learn more about the HCS graduation plans here.
Newport News Public Schools says it will still hold live graduation ceremonies June 15 through June 19 at Todd Stadium.
Seniors will receive an email and postcard with an individual time slot for their arrival.
Current COVID-19 restrictions limit occupancy in Todd Stadium to 10 persons.
Students and families must arrive in the same vehicle, and only four people including the student will be allowed to enter the stadium at a time.
You can find the graduation schedule for each high school here.
Norfolk Public Schools will be airing virtual graduation ceremonies for 2020 high school seniors on June 8 and June 9, with a possible in-person ceremony planned for August 3 and August 4. However, that ceremony depends entirely on if health guidelines improve in the near future.
There will be a slideshow featuring each senior, and the ceremonies will also have music and pre-recorded speeches.
Students can Livestream those ceremonies from the Norfolk Public Schools YouTube page or channel 47 on television.
Schools will also allow students and families to pick up diplomas, and pose for cap and gown photos, at their high schools on June 11 and 12.
Portsmouth Public Schools has reserved the Chartway Arena for August 1 to hold an in-person graduation ceremony. This celebration will only be held if conditions and circumstances improve during the pandemic.
However, students will receive an e-mail about producing and uploading videos for a virtual ceremony if the in-person service can't be held.
You can learn more about these plans under the May 17 notes from the superintendent here.
Suffolk Public Schools haven't released their graduation plans yet, but have posted a release on their website for students to pick up their cap and gowns.
Surry County High School will hold a "drive-through" graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 10 a.m. at the high school.
Every VBCPS high school will host an individual graduation ceremony between June 17 and June 20 for each student, allowing the graduate to hear their name called, walk across a stage in their cap and gown, receive their diploma, and have their picture taken.
Each school will work with seniors and their families regarding the specific time for their walk, a guest list of no more than 10 people, and the appropriate social distancing protocols that will have to be maintained.
Commemorative programs will be created, and each student will be provided with copies for their family.
The division will also be putting on different events and celebrations for their graduates. You can learn more here.
Williamsburg-James City County
WJCC Public Schools said it plans a week filled with graduation celebrations for the Class of 2020.
The events included cap and gown photo sessions by appointment, a processional with decorated cars down Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg, and an on-stage diploma ceremony at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Here are the dates and times for the modified diploma ceremonies:
- Lafayette High School - Friday, June 12, at 3 p.m.
- Jamestown High School - Saturday, June 13, at 9 a.m.
- Warhill High School - Saturday, June 13, at 3 p.m.
You can find more details about those events plus the other celebrations taking place here.
An outdoor graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 will be held from June 10 to June 12 at the Bailey Field parking lot and Burton High School parking lot.
A planning committee made up of students, parents and faculty developed a way to host a drive-in commencement that will allow high school seniors to celebrate their graduation with their peers.
There will be student speeches, medallion presentations and a collective turning of the tassels.
Learn more about this ceremony here.