Following guidance from the California Department of Public Health, Colusa County Public Health Officer Gregory Burt has advised superintendents of the county’s four school districts that in-person graduations are prohibited at this time.
“As we close out the school year, we understand the strong desire to recognize your graduating students for their accomplishments,” said Burt in a release.
According to Burt, the CDPH did note, however, that drive-in only ceremonies are permissible as long as all public health precautions and physical distancing guidelines are in place.
All drive-in ceremonies must adhere to social distancing requirements which include:
- A minimum of 6-feet between vehicles;
- Each vehicle contains only members of the same household;
- Attendees are required to stay in their vehicles for the entire duration of the program;
- Public restrooms are not available, and not to be utilized; and,
- Robust plans must be developed to prevent in-person congregating of students, staff, and family members before and after the drive-in events(s).
So what does that mean for end-of-year traditions at local schools?
Colusa High School
Joshua Mason, principal at Colusa High School said the Colusa Unified School District Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting tonight (Wednesday) at 5:30 p.m. to discuss graduation plans for the high school as well as the alternative and home school classes. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the meeting will be accessible via Zoom. To join the meeting, visit https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77106351348?pwd=RUpGYnRZRDluVEw2bkQvSG1GeUE3QT09 and enter meeting ID: 771 0635 1348 and password: 4FGFEj.
Maxwell High School
Zach Thurman, superintendent of Maxwell Unified School District, said while a ceremony is still planned for May 29, details are not available at this time because a few different options are still being considered. Regardless of what kind of ceremony is chosen, Thurman said that the event will not be open to the public.
Pierce Union High School
Carol Geyer, superintendent for Pierce Unified School District, said the district is still looking at a modified options for the graduation celebration currently scheduled for May 29.
Last week, Geyer said the district was planning a Facebook Live event where students pull up in their cars and get out to walk across the stage and get diploma while their name is being read, but plans for a ceremony like this had not been finalized as of Tuesday.
Geyer said last week that the district was also working to get encroachment permits so that students can get back into their cars with their families following the ceremony and parade through town to conclude the commencement but Geyer could not confirm if this will indeed happen at this time.
Williams High School
Edgar Lampkin, superintendent of Williams Unified School District, said while the county’s shelter-in-place order has expired, school officials still need to abide by the active state order.
“Having said that, we are still continuing with plans to do a virtual live-stream graduation with a drive by and pick up your diploma,” said Lampkin. “There will be chatrooms for kids to interact with each other in groups prior to and after the graduation ceremony.”
Although this will be a very different graduation experience, school officials are working to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating students amid these uncertain times.
“We know with the collaboration of our families, students and staff, we can create a memorable moment for our Seniors,” said Mary Ponce, principal at Williams Junior Senior High School.
Colusa County Public Health Officer Gregory Burt said that while drive-up services for end-of-year material collection is preferred, schools that are unable to accommodate such an event must follow the current guidelines for social gatherings, including limiting the number of people congregated to no more than ten, those involved should maintained physical distance at all times or wear facial coverings when that is not possible and high-use surfaces should be frequently disinfected.