Lake County eyeing traditional graduations after COVID-19 restrictions lifted

Traditional graduation ceremonies will be held in Lake County following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement last week that youth activities can move forward in Florida without restrictions.

The governor said local governments can put restrictions in place, but the state would not preempt them.

“We trust parents to use common sense,” he added.

The district had announced last week plans for ceremonies that would have kept spectators in their cars while graduates walked across a stage in their caps and gowns to receive diplomas and awards and have their photos taken. The idea was crafted in alignment with safety guidelines that recommended social distancing and advised against large gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

But with new information from the governor and strong support from county leaders, the district is opting for more traditional ceremonies instead.

“We have always wanted to give our students a traditional graduation experience, but I had to work within the boundaries of the safety information we were given regarding large group gatherings,”

Superintendent Diane Kornegay said. “Thanks to the governor lifting the restrictions, we can now give our students the experience we all want them to have.”

Kornegay met with leaders from the School Board, County Commission, Department of Health, Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Operations Center and all vowed to support a decision for traditional graduation ceremonies.

“I was so excited to learn that Gov. DeSantis is allowing local communities to decide how to handle high school graduation ceremonies,” said County Commission Chairman Leslie Campione. “Once we learned of this news, we immediately convened a meeting between the School District, Health Department and the County’s Emergency Management Team to formulate a plan to accommodate traditional graduation ceremonies combined with safety protocols, including live-stream opportunities for vulnerable and high-risk family members. I’m so glad graduates and families will be able to celebrate this milestone together.”

The district will continue working with the county’s health department and other agencies to work out the details. The graduation dates are expected to stay the same, but locations will change to outdoor football stadiums, which may require capacity limits. Schools will work with district leaders to determine stadium capacity and how many guests will be allowed to attend.

The district will maintain its plan to livestream the ceremonies so that physically vulnerable family members can watch from the safety of their homes.

The tentative dates for each graduation ceremony is listed below:

  • East Ridge (Friday, June 12);
  • Eustis (Friday, June 12);
  • Lake Minneola (Thursday, June 11);
  • Lake Virtual (Thursday, June 11);
  • Leesburg (Saturday, June 13);
  • Mount Dora (Thursday, June 11);
  • South Lake (Friday, June 12);
  • Tavares (Saturday, June 13); and
  • Umatilla (Friday, June 12).

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