Prince William Co. lifts attendance restriction on graduation ceremonies

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Prince William County Public Schools’ high school graduation ceremonies at Jiffy Lube Live will have unlimited seating for guests, according to an email sent by the school system on Friday, and face masks will be optional.

The revised policies are in accordance with new state guidelines set to go into effect May 28, which will lift coronavirus social distancing and capacity restrictions.

“In alignment with Virginia guidelines which will go into effect on May 28, 2021, there will be unlimited seating available for guests of graduates at our commencement ceremony,” said a statement released by C.D. Hylton Senior High School.

The announcement also comes after the Prince William County School Board requested that Gov. Ralph Northam waive the 6-foot social distancing requirements for outdoor graduations.

These will be the first on-time and restriction-free high school graduation ceremonies Prince William County has had in two years, as those held for the class of 2020 were canceled and later pushed to August due to the coronavirus.

For some students, this lack of restrictions is exciting and a chance at normalcy in an unusual year.

“I don’t have to worry about some of my family not being able to attend, and people will still be able to enjoy the ceremony like years before. It’s a relief after this hectic year,” said Oliva White Eagle-Dodson, a senior at C.D. Hylton High School who plans to attend Colorado State University.

Others are not so keen on the sudden change in restrictions.

“Personally, I feel like unlimited guests and optional masking are a bit too soon, considering we are still in a pandemic,” said Diana Escobar, a senior at Gar-Field High School.

Only Colgan High School and Independence Nontraditional School are holding graduation ceremonies on school property. All of the other county high schools will hold graduation ceremonies at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow.

The county revised the times of some of the ceremonies, so the new schedule at Jiffy Lube Live is as follows:

  • C.D. Hylton High School, June 3, 6 p.m.
  • Gar-Field High School, June 4, 2 p.m.
  • Patriot High School, June 4, 7 p.m.
  • Forest Park High School, June 5, 9 a.m.
  • Potomac High School, June 5, 2 p.m.
  • Osbourn Park High School, June 5, 7 p.m.
  • Woodbridge High School, June 6, 5 p.m.
  • Brentsville High School, June 7, 2 p.m.
  • Battlefield High School, June 7, 7 p.m.
  • Freedom High School, June 8, 2 p.m.
  • Unity Reed High School, June 8, 7 p.m.

Colgan High School’s ceremony at the school will be June 5 at 9 a.m., and the Independence Nontraditional School graduation is scheduled for June 7 at 9 a.m.

All of the graduation ceremonies will be livestreamed with a digital program included, the school system said.

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