May 20, 2020 - Health

In-person graduation ceremonies prove tempting as pandemic persists

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Not every graduation in America is going virtual this year.

The state of play: In Alabama's Birmingham suburbs, some 1,950 graduates and guests could attend Tuesday night's ceremony at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (famous from MTV's "Two-A-Days"), AP reports. Another 3,450 could be on hand on Thursday.

Why it matters: Health officials fear large gatherings could result in coronavirus spread, especially since many people are contagious before experiencing symptoms.

  • Much of the U.S. is on week three of loosened their restrictions to some degree, the N.Y. Times notes.
  • Alabama's case count rose in early May, and it's held steady over the past week.

Between the lines: Health officials keep warning against large gatherings, but the ceremonies are outdoors with fewer guests and more space, plus face masks are provided.

  • In two nearby cities that also held outdoor ceremonies, the AP notes, few of the attendees wore protective face masks, and seniors hugged and gathered in tight groups of friends for pictures.

The big picture: Texas is charting a similar path after Gov. Greg Abbott said outdoor graduations are permissible starting May 29.

  • In San Antonio, some students get two guests and a single parking space for their outdoor ceremonies in June, per The Rivard Report, a local news nonprofit.
  • The city's Northside district is having "contactless" ceremonies featuring students walking individually across a stage. The schools will edit the walks into a single video, per the San Antonio News-Express.

The bottom line: These graduations are good examples of the temptations Americans will face — and the lengths they'll go to preserve some sense of normal — until a vaccine is widely available.

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