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SPS graduations moving back to ODU

The graduation ceremonies for Lakeland, King’s Fork and Nansemond River high schools will be back at Old Dominion University in Norfolk pending an anticipated change in state capacity and distancing requirements.

The ceremonies will now be held June 12 at Chartway Arena — formerly the Ted Constant Center — instead of at each school’s respective stadium, as had been planned to allow for social distancing due to COVID-19.

Lakeland will hold its graduation at 9 a.m., King’s Fork at 12:30 p.m. and Nansemond River at 4 p.m., with each graduate receiving eight tickets for their respective ceremony.

Chesapeake, Norfolk and Portsmouth public school divisions will also be holding their graduation ceremonies at Chartway Arena.

Suffolk Public Schools announced the change in plans on its website May 21, saying it is in response to Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent announcement on easing distancing and capacity restrictions beginning May 28.

Suffolk’s seven-day positivity rate is 5.05%. In Western Tidewater, the rate ranges from 0% in Surry County and 0.71% in Southampton County, to 3.22% in Franklin and 4.83% in Isle of Wight County. The seven-day positivity rate is 5.9% in Norfolk, 4.46% in Chesapeake and 4.26% in Portsmouth.

The school divisions anticipate that distancing and capacity restrictions will be lifted, and the ceremonies can be held indoors as they had been in previous years.

The division said ODU is working with the respective school divisions to make sure all mitigation protocols are followed to allow for graduates and their families to celebrate as safely as possible.

Last year, Lakeland, King’s Fork and Nansemond River high schools held drive-through ceremonies at their schools.

If restrictions are not eased as anticipated, all graduations will be held outdoors at each school’s stadium — Lakeland on June 9, King’s Fork on June 10 and Nansemond River on June 11.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy will hold its graduation ceremony at 9 a.m. May 28, and Suffolk Christian Academy will be holding its graduation at the school at 2 p.m. May 29.