HCPS announces 8 guests per graduate, up from 4, reflecting new Va. directives, CDC guidance

Henrico, Va., May 28, 2021 — In accordance with updated pandemic directives from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Henrico County Public Schools is adjusting some plans for traditional in-person graduation ceremonies scheduled for June. Northam’s Executive Order 79, which takes effect today, brings Virginia’s policies in line with COVID-19 pandemic guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The revised directives will enable more family members and loved ones to attend the ceremonies, will give attendees the option to sit more closely, and won’t require masks — although the governor’s order strongly encourages vaccination, as well as mask-use for those who are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated. No matter their vaccination status, attendees may still choose to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing at the events.

To read the governor’s order, go to https://www.governor.virginia.gov/executive-actions/ and click “Executive Order 79.” A May 14 news release with more information is available at https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/news-releases/.

In April, HCPS announced plans for traditional graduation ceremonies at Richmond Raceway for the school division’s nine comprehensive high schools and two Advanced Career Education centers, as well as a June 9 ceremony for the Academy at Virginia Randolph, to be held at the Virginia Randolph Recreation Area. 

In accordance with the new state directives:

  • Masks will not be required for those attending the graduation ceremonies. However, the governor’s directive strongly encourages those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated to wear masks in all settings.
  • Each graduate will now be able to invite eight guests, instead of four. (Graduates will still receive only four printed tickets for admission to the ceremony, because the tickets were printed before the new guidelines were issued. However, each ticket will now admit two guests.)
  • Attendees will not be required to physically distance or sit together in “pods” of guests.

Each class at the Richmond Raceway events will engage in a processional, emerging from a gate beneath the grandstands, walking past friends and family in the grandstands and descending to a grassy seating area just across the track. As is traditional, students will ascend a stage and accept their diplomas. Professional-quality sound systems and video boards will also be in place to amplify the students’ processional, songs, speeches and the recognition of each graduate by name as they walk across the stage.

Because pandemic restrictions were eased earlier than the expected June 15 date, planning for the 10 Richmond Raceway ceremonies was well underway. To accommodate June temperatures at an outdoor venue:

  • The starting times of graduations are taking place slightly earlier in the day (compared to prior years) in order to avoid some of the hottest potential late afternoon heat.
  • HCPS high schools are planning to reduce the length of their ceremonies — which can typically last up to 100 minutes — to 70 minutes or less.
  • Graduating seniors will assemble in the shade beneath the grandstands before their ceremonies and will have ample access to water.
  • Guests may bring a factory-sealed bottle of water to the ceremonies.

Graduations will also be livestreamed at www.henricoschools.us, ensuring that relatives and loved ones can also watch from their computers and mobile devices. Graduations will also be recorded and will be available to view the week after the ceremonies by going to HCPS’ graduation hub at https://henricoschools.us/graduations/. Graduations will be replayed later in June on HCPS-TV (Comcast Channel 99 and FIOS channel 38). An HCPS-TV replay schedule will be available at the graduation hub webpage.

HCPS graduation schedule

Detailed information is being made available to graduates through their schools. At Richmond Raceway events, parking will open two hours before the program, and grandstand gates will open 90 minutes before each program. 

Virginia Randolph Recreation Area

2175 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, Va. 23060

Wednesday, June 9

  • The Academy at Virginia Randolph (7 p.m.)

Richmond Raceway Complex

600 E. Laburnum Ave., Henrico, Va. 23222

Monday, June 14

  • Advanced Career Education Centers at Hermitage and Highland Springs (6 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 15

  • Henrico High School (10 a.m.)
  • Highland Springs High School (2 p.m.)
  • Varina High School (6 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 16

  • Douglas S. Freeman High School (10 a.m.)
  • Deep Run High School (2 p.m.)
  • Mills E. Godwin High School (6 p.m.)

Thursday, June 17

  • J.R. Tucker High School (10 a.m.)
  • Glen Allen High School (2 p.m.)
  • Hermitage High School 6 p.m.)

Friday, June 18: Rain date