As the school year comes to an end, in-person graduation ceremonies throughout the country have been postponed or canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. While the San Ramon Valley Unified School District is no exception, district officials have announced plans to safely celebrate seniors in a social distancing-conscience way.
In order to recognize the class of 2020's accomplishments, high school seniors will be honored during a virtual graduation ceremony on May 29 and are invited to participate in a special "Senior Class of 2020 Memory Drive" to mark the occasion.
High school principals sent a letter home to all seniors and their families with instructions on how to participate in the virtual graduation ceremony, which will be held on May 29 at 6 p.m. -- with the exception of San Ramon's Venture Independent Study School, which will hold its graduation at 6 p.m. on June 4.
District officials did say that they plan to eventually hold an in-person event, however an exact date has not yet been confirmed.
"We do not have any new information on our in-person event yet, but like you, we cannot wait to be able to celebrate our Class of 2020 in person," Christopher George, SRVUSD's director of instructional services and district communications, said in an email to parents. "While we do not anticipate any changes, all events that involve contact of any kind are subject to current Contra Costa County Department of Public Health orders in place when events are scheduled."
In the meantime, students and their families are encouraged to participate in the "Senior Class of 2020 Memory Drive" on June 2, which will give students the opportunity to drive through their campus one last time, be cheered on by staff and be congratulated by their site principal.
School sites will provide information with more details about the memory drive in the days to come, however George said that each drive will take place at a student's high school campus starting at 5:30 p.m.
SRVUSD also released the online graduation ceremony schedule for middle schools throughout the district, which should have been received by students and families. According to district officials, Diablo Vista, Iron Horse, Los Cerros and Windemere Ranch middle schools will hold their promotion ceremonies on May 27 at 6 p.m., while Charlotte Wood, Gale Ranch, Pine Valley and Stone Valley middle schools will hold theirs on May 28, also at 6 p.m.
The decision to hold a virtual graduation ceremony comes off a statement released by Contra Costa Health Services on May 12, urging schools to host events that do not involve extensive in-person contact between students or staff.
“We recognize the need for people to connect and celebrate,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “However, gatherings like graduation ceremonies are a major contributor to the spread of COVID-19.”
Schools throughout Contra Costa County have been closed since March when health officials issued a shelter-in-place order, doing so in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 by keeping people home as much as possible. Classes have since been held virtually with students studying from home online.
“We are all thinking of the high school seniors in our county and others who will be missing out on the traditional graduation and promotion ceremonies that signify an important rite of passage,” said Lynn Mackey, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools. “I am truly grateful that Contra Costa Health Services is providing this guidance so that schools can work within a set of parameters to still plan for and create meaningful graduations.”