COVID-19 restrictions set in place for the senior graduation ceremony

Robinson’s class of 2021 graduation ceremony will be modified to accommodate for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic


Photo M. Hall

In the past, students at graduation were able to sit in proximity without masks.

Amelia Foster, Print Managing Editor

Graduation for Robinson’s seniors is scheduled for June 3 at 4 pm, with the last day of school for them set for May 21, but it won’t be the traditional graduation ceremony many came to Robinson expecting. Due to concerns over COVID-19 and the need to follow guidelines set by the CDC, restrictions will be put in place in order to protect all students, employees and guests.

Each student only receives two tickets for guests, as opposed to the past when seniors had no limit to the number of guests they could bring. All chairs will be socially distanced and formatted in a checkerboard pattern; masks are required at all times. Other precautions include hand sanitizer stations, cleaning between graduation ceremonies for each school and no handshaking when students receive the diploma. The full list of guidelines available can be found here.

“[Robinson has] received weekly updates from the District over the past couple of months. The District has worked to align the ceremony procedures with CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone present,” Assistant Principal Kailyn Morman said. “This year’s class will get to have an almost full-blown ceremony, with a few health and safety modifications.”

Despite the restrictions in place, the ceremony will be much more traditional than last year, when in-person school was completely shut down. The graduation ceremony for the class of 2024 was drive-thru, with students picking up their diplomas in the student parking lot. The ceremony for the class of 2025 is able to happen in-person at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall due to more knowledge of COVID-19 and how to prevent the spread of the virus.

“I think it’s a little messed up because although yes we have to take safety precautions with COVID, two [tickets] does seem a bit small given that if you go off a standard that everyone has two parents to attend, not including siblings or other relatives… only allowing two kind of puts a lot of limits on that,” Amaya Posey (’21) said.

COVID-19 has had a larger impact on the 2020-21 school year for seniors outside of just the graduation ceremony. Homecoming was cancelled, as was Grad Bash and Prom. For Robinson’s IB Program, the IB exams that students have been preparing for since entering the program have been cancelled.

“I was able to come to terms with the restrictions because I don’t value the graduation ceremony that highly and I understand the importance of preventing the propagation of COVID,” Leif Holmstron (’21) said.

The situation for COVID-19 is constantly evolving. From March 21 to 28, the percent positive test rate was 9.36%. In that same period, Hillsborough County Public Schools reported 341 new COVID-19 cases from employees and students.

“Everything is subject to change,” Morman said. “The guidelines are set based upon the conditions [of COVID-19] as they are today. We will work hard to relay information about any changes as soon as they are announced.”