Colusa County Public Health Officer Dr. Gregory Burt notified Colusa, Maxwell, Pierce, and Williams school districts on May 8 that “in-person graduation is not allowed at this time.”
Colusa County Superintendent of Schools confirmed Thursday in a webinar that despite Colusa County’s reopening into phase 2, which included some school and youth activities, local and state Public Health officials, as well as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction said any sort of congregate setting for graduations and promotions would not be allowed, due to the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Face-to-face graduations are just not an option,” Colusa County Superintendent of Schools, Mike West said.
According to Colusa County Public Health, drive-in graduation is permissible by spacing vehicles six feet apart, as long as each vehicle contains only members of the same household.
The order also states that attendees must stay in their vehicles at all times during the ceremony, and the use of restrooms would not be allowed.
Pierce High School has asked Colusa County for permission to close Wildwood Ave. on Friday, May 29 for a graduate parade. The parade will be held at 5 PM and will be held in compliance with the local and state health orders, officials said.
Williams has its plans set for a combination live and virtual graduation, some of which will be prerecorded by a production company, officials said.
The Maxwell Unified School District board, however, said the Public Health Officer’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to graduation is unwarranted and unfair.
While Colusa, Pierce, and Williams schools districts have 60 to 100 seniors in their graduating classes, Maxwell has less than 25 students graduation at the high school.
The school board said it is hoping the Public Health Department will grant them a variance to the order that will allow students to be on an expanded stage for graduation ceremonies that adheres to physical distancing protocols. The board has also restricted the number of invited guests to adult family members only, who could stay in their vehicles if necessary.
“We wouldn’t open it up to the public,” said Trustee Kelly Haywood.
If approved, students would still be allowed to give their speeches and walk across the stage and pick up their diplomas ‘contact free.’
Colusa is also hoping the Public Health Department will grant them a variance to the rule as well for live graduations, if they hold to physical distancing protocols.
The school board discussed having graduation at their meeting on Monday or possibly postponing graduation until later in the summer when state restrictions are lifted.
If all else fails, Colusa will have drive up graduations only, with students getting out to cross the stage, stopping only for their diploma and to have their photographs taken.
School officials said they would continue working with Public Health to finalize their graduation ceremonies.
“We all want to get these plans in place,” said Colusa High School Principal Josh Mason.