Many Hawaii public high schools will hold in-person graduation ceremonies this year with limits on who can attend to adhere to safe social distancing, according to a full list of ceremonies released Monday by the Department of Education.

Utilizing spaces like school auditoriums, football fields or venues like Aloha Stadium for some of the larger Oahu schools, many schools will choose to hold in-person ceremonies that will include graduates, essential staff and some guests.

Another handful of schools opted to keep things virtual this year — as was the case last year in the beginning months of the pandemic — or hold a drive-through diploma pickup. A few schools have yet to announce their plans.

Hilo High School sign fronting the school on the island of Hawaii reminds students to Wear A Mask, Wash your Hands and Social Distance during a surge in COVID-19 cases. September 24, 2020
Hilo High’s May 21 graduation ceremony for 265 seniors will feature a drive-through diploma pickup limited to one vehicle per student, with a virtual ceremony to follow. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Decisions on the type of ceremony to hold were left to individual schools, but many welcomed the opportunity to take a step toward normalcy after students were forced to miss many rites of passage to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our high schools across the islands have been working with graduates, parents and families to plan the best possible celebrations while adhering to social distancing requirements and other health and safety guidelines,” Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in the release.

“We thank our school communities and partners who have been working to make these events truly special,” she added.

The graduations were slated to occur between May 15 and May 28, which is the last day of the academic year.

In February, the DOE said all schools must hold their graduation ceremonies outdoors or in places with adequate ventilation, with 6-foot distancing implemented and mask-wearing enforced except when taking photos or while taking mask breaks.

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