Hart District considers plans for drive-by graduations

Choir member Jenna Peterson, changes her tassel during the 2020 Valencia High School Choir graduation ceremony which took place in the Real Life Church parking lot in Valencia on Friday, May 15, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Drive-by graduations are going to be allowed for the class of 2020, according to 5th District County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

The idea of a drive-thru graduation stems from news stories posted earlier this month about school districts both in California and around the country holding in-car ceremonies.

During some drive-thru events, students are given their diploma and hear their name read, just as they would during a traditional graduation ceremony. However, they receive the diploma while still in their vehicle.

“We’re also going to allow, we got a lot of requests for graduation parades because a lot of the seniors are not able to walk the stage to get their diploma,” said Barger. “The Health Department said, ‘Absolutely not, that’s considered an event.’

“I fought hard and I’m proud to say that we are going to now allow graduation parades for those school districts that want to have a celebration, recognizing social distancing and all that in the guidelines. So that’s going to be modified.”

The possibility of having the parades or graduation drive-bys was previously prohibited, according to Superintendent Mike Kuhlman of the William S. Hart Union High School District. Prior to Barger’s announcement, the district continued forward with its virtual graduation plan.

“Just yesterday afternoon, the county of Los Angeles shared an email memorandum with the message that the county health order was prohibiting such activities.”

However, the news from Barger on Friday was described as a welcome reversal by Kuhlman, because it effectively allowed for drive-by graduations.

“We have been working behind the scenes to prepare for this possibility,” said Kuhlman. “Now that we have a green light, expect news in the very near future on how we will plan to celebrate our seniors with graduation car parades.”

According to the rules sent out on Friday on how school districts can safely conduct drive-by parades, no participants are allowed to be on a bicycle, a motorcycle, a convertible with the top open or a vehicle with no doors such as a golf cart.

“If any of the windows on a vehicle is open, the occupants of the vehicle must wear a face covering,” said a county news release about the announcement. “Any organization coordinating a large-scale parade must have a designated organizational host who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules for the parade and adherence to the state’s ‘Stay At Home’ order that precludes gatherings.”

Only those who work for the organization necessary to facilitate the parade and to ensure compliance can be present at the location designated by the host, the release said.

The drive-by graduations/parades must take place in an outside location, proceed by the host’s invitation only and there can be no sale of any items or food.

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