Polk County Public Schools found a place for June high school graduations that is large enough to allow social distancing: Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. See the dates below; times are still being worked out, the school district said in a news release.

Students, families, staff and guests who don’t feel comfortable attending can view the ceremonies live on the Polk County Public Schools YouTube channel, the district says on its graduation web page.

“By conducting the ceremonies at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, we will be able to give (seniors) the ceremony they deserve and have always wanted, while still abiding by social-distancing and health guidelines,” Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said in a prepared statement. “We are so thankful to our partners at the City of Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers for helping to make this happen.”

Included are all traditional high schools as well as Gause Academy, Fresh Start, East Area Adult, Polk Grad Academy, Polk Virtual School, Roosevelt Academy, Ridge Technical College, Traviss Technical College and West Area Adult.

At the stadium, students will be called to the field by name, where they will be seen on the jumbotron and photographed with their principal; “social distancing will be required in photos,” the school district noted.

Tentative dates for Lakeland schools:

  • Fresh Start: Tuesday, June 9
  • George Jenkins: Wednesday, June 10
  • Harrison School for the Arts: Thursday, June 11
  • Kathleen: Tuesday, June 9
  • Lake Gibson: Saturday, June 6
  • Lakeland: Thursday, June 11
  • Polk Virtual/Polk GRAD Academy: Tuesday, June 16
  • Tenoroc: Tuesday, June 16
  • West Area Adult School: Monday, June 15

The Bartow IB School, which has many Lakeland students, is scheduled for Friday, June 12

Check a full list as well as FAQs here

The news release lists these health precautions being taken by Polk County Public Schools, the city of Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers:

  • The Florida Department of Health is being consulted during the planning of graduation ceremonies.
  • Temperatures will be checked as individuals enter the stadium. Anyone running a fever, including graduates, will not be allowed to attend or participate.
  • Everyone will be required to wear a mask, including graduates.
  • Graduates will receive four tickets each. The tickets will include a seat number. Limiting the number of guests and assigning them to seats at least six feet apart will ensure social distancing.
  • The stadium, including seats, will be disinfected daily.
  • Graduates will stand 6 feet apart during the ceremony.
  • There will be no handshakes.
  • Ceremonies will be condensed to approximately one hour to limit exposure.
  • Graduates, guests and staff members are being reminded that graduation ceremonies are not mandatory. Anyone who does not feel safe should not attend. 

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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