Hillsborough plans indoor high school graduations for July

The guest list has been cut so participants can spread out.
Graduation [ KENNETH C. ZIRKEL | ]
Published June 23, 2020|Updated June 24, 2020

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District still plans to hold high school graduations at an indoor venue in July, despite the growing coronavirus spread in Hillsborough and around the state.

Near the end of Tuesday’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Addison Davis said he is preparing a letter to the district’s 27 high school principals with the details. The Tampa Bay Times has requested a copy.

Hillsborough holds all of its commencement ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall, typically three or four per day.

Related: Hillsborough schools prepare for August reopening

This year’s graduations were postponed from late May and early June to this schedule in mid-July after the pandemic shuttered businesses and caused the state to impose limits on large gatherings.

The idea was to schedule them tentatively and hope for the best. Davis committed to deciding by July 1 if the district could go through with the plan.

On Tuesday, he described this format: Graduates will be spread out on the lower level of the indoor hall. Guests will be on the upper level. The graduates will be limited to two guests each, down from a recent plan that allowed four.

Related: Tribune Scholars: Essays on climate change from Hillsborough's top graduates

No one on the School Board raised any objection, despite growing alarm in the community about the COVID-19 statistics.

“We will be mindful, as we see a continued upward spike, it might change,” Davis told the School Board. “But right now, we’re going to do everything we can to have a traditional graduation for our learners.”