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CPS to allow in-person graduations for class of 2021

Families of high school seniors and 8th graders should expect to hear more about their schools’ plans in the coming weeks, officials said Wednesday.

Alana, Rachel, Blake, Flavia and Mark Berry pose for a picture during a drive-thru graduation for Whitney Young Magnet High School students on June 13, 2020.
Alana, Rachel, Blake, Flavia and Mark Berry pose for a picture during a drive-thru graduation for Whitney Young Magnet High School students on June 13, 2020.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Large commencements with hundreds of cheering parents, siblings and grandparents might not return for some time, but this year’s 8th graders and high school seniors will be able to take part in more traditional ceremonies than last year.

Both indoor and outdoor graduations and other end-of-year events can be held this spring with some capacity restrictions, Chicago Public Schools officials announced at Wednesday’s virtual Board of Education meeting.

“As we look for ways to honor our graduates after what’s been a very difficult year, the district developed a plan to celebrate graduates while ensuring the safety of each school community,” Bogdana Chkoumbova, CPS’ chief of school management, told the school board.

“Schools will have the option to hold indoor, outdoor or virtual graduation events where students can obtain their diplomas and take pictures in their caps and gowns,” Chkoumbova said. “Graduations can either be social events, where mingling can occur, or spectator events that are ticketed and seated with no mingling.”

Ticketed graduations — held in auditoriums, stadiums, fields, courts or other sports venues — will be allowed at 50% capacity with no more than 50 attendees, unless the ceremony is held at an outdoor venue that typically can safely hold more than 200 people. In those scenarios, 25% capacity is allowed — such as 250 people in a venue that holds 1,000.

Schools opting for social events where people are expected to walk around and mingle can host their students and families in a ballroom, banquet, restaurant or other indoor or outdoor venues with 50% capacity, officials said. No more than 50 people will be allowed if those are held indoors, while a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoors.

Principals have already received the district’s guidance, and families should expect to hear more about their schools’ plans in the coming weeks, officials said.

CPS rules for graduations were released at Wednesday’s board meeting.
CPS