Last Friday (April 30) Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a new executive order lifting all capacity restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, including kindergarten through grade 12 events.

Friday’s new order opens the door for full attendance at upcoming high school graduations.

"Getting our kids back in school last August was one of the most important decision of the pandemic and keeping them in the classroom is one of my top priorities," Reeves said. "Even so - our class of 2021 has not been afforded a normal senior year. I want every one of them to attend their graduation and I want everyone in their family to be able to join them!”

"You can attend graduation," Reeves said, adding "masks are not necessary for anyone at outdoor venues on K-12 campuses."

Pontotoc City School Superintendent Dr. Michelle Bivens said Pontotoc’s graduation is set for 8 p.m. on Friday night, May 21.

“Graduation will be on Tommy Morton Field, unless it rains,” Bivens said. “If it rains we will be in the Ag-Center.”

“Masks are not required. They are optional. We will not have capacity restrictions. We will also live stream the ceremony."

Pontotoc County School Superintendent Dr. Brock Puckett said traditional graduation ceremonies will be held at South Pontotoc and North Pontotoc High Schools.

“Graduation attendance will not be limited, everyone that wants to attend can be there,” Puckett said. “This is good news from the governor. And if you want to wear a mask you are welcome to do so, if you don’t want to wear one that’s alright too. We’re proud that we can have a normal graduation this year.”

South Pontotoc’s graduation will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, on Cougar Field. North Pontotoc’s graduation will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, on Viking Field.

In Friday’s announcement Governor Reeves cited numerous reasons for lifting the restrictions as graduation exercises are nearing.

“With vigilance and common sense, and as a result of the continued sacrifices made by all Mississippians in the interest of public health over the past year,COVID-19 infections and resulting hospitalizations have been effectively managed, have significantly declined, and continue to decline,” Reeves noted.

"Mississippi has seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 infections and resulting hospitalizations since mid-January 2021, and more than 1,000,000 Mississippians have received at least the first dose of theCOVID-19 vaccination, with over 715,000 Mississippians being fully vaccinated. The vaccine roll-out is continuing to proceed as expeditiously as possible with adequate vaccine supply available to ensure that every Mississippian who wants to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may do so.”

Students inside classrooms will continue to wear face coverings for the remainder of this 2020-2021 school year, Reeves said.

“In consultation with the State Health Officer, in order to continue to disrupt the spread ofCOVID-19 and insure that Mississippi's school aged children are able to complete this school year without any further disruption, it is necessary to continue the requirement that face coverings shall be worn while inside school buildings and classrooms whenever it is not possible to maintain social distancing from another person not in the same household for the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic year."

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