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Press Release

County Urges Schools to Host Virtual Online Graduation Celebrations

Health officials provide guidelines for how to do graduation ceremonies safely in cars or small groups

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


As the end of the school-year approaches, health officials in Contra Costa County are urging schools to host virtual graduation ceremonies online instead of in-person celebrations in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"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 have been closed since March when county health officials issued a shelter in place order requiring people to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing in public. 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."

For schools who are unable to hold virtual graduations, Contra Costa Health Services has issued guidance on how to hold in-person ceremonies safely.

One option is a drive-through ceremony where students can pick up their diplomas with their parents and siblings in the car (up to six people). One family at a time will be allowed to approach a graduation table/station where their student would receive a diploma. Attendees would need to wear masks or face coverings.

Another option recommended by health officials involves a small group of 25 students or fewer. In this scenario, students would wear masks, stay six feet apart and practice social distancing. This ceremony would not include the parents/caregivers of the students or their extended families, but it could be filmed for them to view at a later time.

School districts with questions about safety graduation ceremony logistics should contact the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

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