Hart district eyes plans for grad ceremonies at COC

Graduating seniors toss their caps in the air as they celebrate at the end of the 2019 Academy of the Canyons commencement ceremony held in the Honor Grove at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Class of 2021 will have in-person graduations should all things with the county’s current public health status remain consistent, according to William S. Hart Union High School District staff.  

During their Wednesday night meeting, the governing board of the district was informed by staff that guidelines sent out by the state Department of Public Health concerning graduations had been agreed to by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.  

“So, with that good news, we are very encouraged that should the current trend and cases continue in the county, we will be able to hold in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2021,” said Collyn Nielsen, chief administrative officer for the district. 

Nielsen added that College of the Canyons has indicated willingness to allow the district to use its stadium for graduations should the county guidance allow for it.  

In terms of the guidelines, Los Angeles County currently falls in the state’s orange tier status as it relates to cases, and therefore will allow for 33% capacity in the stadium. If the county’s numbers worsen, and it slips back into the red tier, venue capacity will be cut to 25%.  

Spectator seating will be fixed and labeled, Nielsen said, and 6 feet of distance will be required between each household.  

All spectators and students will need to be self-screened for symptoms before entering Cougar Stadium, and masks will be required at all times.  

“All graduates and staff must remain 6 feet apart at all times, and spectators may not come onto the field after the ceremony,” said Neilsen. “They’ll be dismissed by section to reunite with their graduate afterward.” 

Nielsen said the district will clarify all the requirements and details, as well as announce the dates for each individual ceremony, once the graduations come closer. 

Board members expressed their excitement at the prospect of having in-person graduations once again. Last year, the Class of 2020 had graduations that involved a drive-thru event as well as a video created by the school, commemorating the end of their time on campus, that could be viewed from home. 

Board President Cherise Moore said the board wanted to end the presentation about the district’s back-to-school plan with the graduation news because it is an “exciting note to know that graduation is going to be amazing and awesome.”  

“I’m optimistic that we will be at the tier that we need to be, to be at COC on the field, and with all of our students together,” said Moore.  

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