Local high schools are starting to plan for their graduations amid the impact of the COVID virus and social distancing.

Only one high school plans to hold graduation events this month. The Commerce High School Class of 2020 will be having in-person graduation ceremonies on Friday, May 22, on Tiger Field at 8 p.m.

Each graduate will receive five guest tickets that they can distribute to family and friends.

“We will follow all social distancing guidelines, including the six foot rule for everyone and everyone will wear a mask,” principal Will Smith said. “The ceremony will be live streamed so everyone can see your accomplishment. While we know these are not ideal circumstances, we at CHS want to give you the opportunity for a traditional graduation on Tiger Field.”

Superintendent Joy Tolbert said she had talked with the governor’s staff and presented the proposal to hold the ceremony at the school stadium. The 88 graduates will be placed six feet apart on the field.

Law enforcement will be present to help ensure safe distance requirements are followed by those in attendance and the number of people on the field with the graduates will be limited. Attendees may be required to wear a mask.

JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL

Jefferson High School will attempt to hold its graduation on June 19 or July 24, depending on circumstances with the virus. System leaders said more information would be forthcoming closer to the date.

COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS

Jackson County School System Superintendent April Howard said a June 12 graduation date is being set for Jackson County Comprehensive High School and June 13 for East Jackson Comprehensive High School. If ceremonies don't happen on those days, July 17-18 will be the backup dates.

The school system will make a final decision May 18 on which month to hold the ceremonies.

"Quite frankly, I think considering we're still in a state of emergency until June 12, we likely will have to move to the July 17 and 18 alternative dates," Howard said last week. "Our schools and our students and our school leaders really want to be able to have a traditional graduation, but we just can't commit to an exact date yet."

If graduation ceremonies cannot be held in July, the school system will use a “virtual graduation.”

Graduations had originally been scheduled for May 21-22.

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