Two Alabama high schools held commencement exercises for graduating seniors on Tuesday and two more were planning ceremonies for Wednesday and Thursday despite concerns and restrictions in other parts of the country due to the coronavirus, The Associated Press reported.
More than 540 graduates were spread across a football field at Thompson High School in the Birmingham suburb of Alabaster on Tuesday, with few of those in attendance wearing facial coverings and several gathering in groups for photographs and hugs, AP said.
Alabama State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey gave the commencement address as school officials limited guests to 2,500, half of the normal capacity.
Two more schools, Spain Park and Hoover, characterized by the AP as some of the largest in the state, were to hold traditional commencement ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. The event was to be held at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, a former minor league baseball stadium for the Birmingham Barons.
School officials announced the graduation ceremonies after Gov. Kay Ivey ended restrictions on the size of gatherings so long as people from different households remained 6 feet apart.
Spain Park was set to graduate 390 seniors on Wednesday while Hoover was to follow on Thursday with another 690. AP estimated that as many as 1,950 could attend Spain Park’s graduation with up to 3,450 showing up for Hoover’s ceremony.
The actions come as parts of the country, such as states in the northeast, are still prohibiting any public gatherings.
Schools in many parts of the country have planned or announced virtual graduations via video conference, and former President Barack Obama offered a generic commencement address via YouTube on Saturday.
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