Jackson High School has officially cancelled prom and will hold graduation outdoors on the football field. In addition, graduating seniors will be limited to four guests who can attend the graduation ceremony.
JHS Principal Seth Harrell said in a video address to seniors that these decisions were made after all options were considered.
“We take these decisions seriously and that is why it required so much time to think through them,” Harrell said.
Prom was originally scheduled for May 2 before being moved to June 13. The decision to cancel prom entirely was made after high school staff spoke directly to the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Department and reviewed the most recent guidelines provided by the Center for Disease and Control.
Harrell said that after compiling all the relevant information, it was clear there was no way to host a large school dance safely and responsibly. “I’m sorry that we came to this conclusion, but ultimately at the end of the day we feel this is what is best” Harrell told students.
Graduation will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 19, with a mandatory graduation practice set for seniors at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17.
For graduation practice, seniors need to bring their graduation gowns with them and enter through the event center doors. Students will receive their four graduation tickets at the practice.
Harrell apologized to the seniors for making them choose who gets to attend their special night, but said the limited attendance was necessary to maintain social distancing.
The four tickets will correspond to a randomly assigned section in the football stadium bleachers. In addition, social distancing guidelines will be in effect for guests.
Harrell said they will put together the details of the ceremony in the coming weeks, but it was important that their plan included each graduate getting to walk across the stage to get their diploma, all students celebrating graduation together and some of the senior’s family being able to attend. “We feel like we have a plan in place that can allow that to happen,” Harrell said.
The ceremony will be live streamed for those who cannot attend, and in the event of inclement weather the ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. the following day.
It is recommended that anyone who may be more susceptible to COVID-19 due to their age or previous health conditions avoid the event. If these guests plan on attending, it is recommended that they wear a mask.