April 11, 2021

How CA high schools plan to pull off ‘normal’ graduations

MD Duran on Unsplash

Hurtling toward the end of a hectic year, most K-12 and high school districts in California are intensely focused on reopening campuses and giving the Class of 2021 a final send-off to remember in June. The goal and operating assumption, many district administrators say, is they can do an in-person graduation, where seniors can walk across a stage with their families present.

That’s the way it always had been until last year, when, in the first throes of Covid, all but small districts did remote graduations — livestreamed and video recorded — or did a drive-thru diploma pickup.

Now, students say they want, and administrators agree they deserve, a typical graduation after a most atypical year in distance learning apart from friends. All of the districts EdSource contacted are planning for graduation ceremonies outdoors, with livestreaming for families that cannot or choose not to attend.

Pulling off a graduation, though, will require the same painstaking attention to safety and health precautions and social distancing as a reopening of school — for an event attended by hundreds of parents who may be unfamiliar with the protocols. On March 26, the California Department of Public Health issued a separate guidance for commencement and graduation ceremonies beyond the extensive requirements issued the same day covering all outdoor seating events and performances.

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