CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - They may not be full of the usual hugs and handshakes, but in-person graduations look to be moving ahead in Virginia.
The guidance from Gov. Ralph Northam says outdoor graduation ceremonies can host up to 5,000 people or 30% of the venue’s capacity, whichever is less. That has central Virginia area school districts feeling excited.
It’s almost time, so get ready for the familiar sound of ‘Pomp and Circumstance.’ In-person graduations are being planned in Charlottesville and Albemarle County following the governor’s announcement.
“There was a buzz in the hallway and we started to adjust our plans accordingly,” said Eric Irizarry, Charlottesville High School’s principal.
Irizarry, or Dr. I as his students call him, says CHS was incredibly excited to hear the news. The plans aren’t final yet for this year’s graduation, though Irizarry says it will be outside as the CHS team is working on making it a special and memorable day.
“I hope they look back at graduation and realize how special it will be to bring everyone back together for an event that is our pinnacle of the school year here at Charlottesville High School,” he said.
Over in Albemarle County, there’s the same level of enthusiasm for a chance at a more proper send-off.
“It’s a profound moment in their life,” said Albemarle County Public Schools Spokesperson Phil Giaramita. “And to rob students of the joy of that moment was a difficult reality to face up to.”
To give the over 1,000 high schoolers across the county that experience, Giaramita says graduation may look a bit different. The guidance is a helpful planning start.
“We still would be looking at more than one graduation, we might look at two or three different ceremonies to accommodate all the graduating class plus family, but it is certainly a hopeful sign.”
Giaramita said before the announcement, the county was looking at holding several smaller graduations for each of its three high schools.
While the guidance from Northam helps the area schools, it is just guidance. The official policy won’t be released until the calendar turns to April, but once it does, schools will be eager to celebrate.
“We’ll be able to share some good news with families,” Giaramita said.