Hart district outlines plans for live graduations

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Graduating seniors celebrate as they march into the Canyon High School graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on June 5, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

After publicly expressing their support for hosting live graduations earlier this year, William S. Hart Union High School District officials outlined their proposed plans for the Class of 2021 ceremonies during their Wednesday night governing board meeting.  

Officials said that while they hope to have the graduations once again at College of the Canyons football stadium, the layout of the graduate seats would be dramatically different than in years past, 6 feet of social distancing between households will be required of those spectating, and graduates will only be allowed to bring two spectators each, unless the family wins additional tickets in a lottery.  

However, each graduation will be livestreamed for families to watch at home, as well.  

During the presentation of the plan Wednesday, Hart district Chief Administrative Officer Collyn Nielsen said that, for the past few weeks, well before the county moved into the less-restrictive “yellow tier,” the district had been making their plans for graduations in anticipation of needing county approval to put on the events. 

“Our plans for graduation were submitted to the county Department of Public Health as required for prior approval, and that approval was granted on the guarantee that we would adhere to all the details of our plan and be compliant with all DPH guidelines,” said Nielsen.  

Although in the yellow tier, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is requiring a number of guidelines be followed: venues must be limited to 67% capacity; guests, graduates and staff must be counted toward that maximum number; attendees must be from California; attendees must preregister; COVID-19 symptom screening for attendees will be required; and groups entering or exiting must be staggered.  

Nielsen emphasized that each one of these restrictions would be adhered to, and the district would also be requiring that masks be worn by all individuals. Spectators won’t be allowed on the field after the ceremony, and the number of spectators will be limited in order to accommodate for both the capacity limit, and the amount of space needed to ensure 6 feet of distance for everyone.  

As for the actual layout of the ceremony, Nielsen said the stage would be placed in the middle of the field to allow for four sections of students to be socially distanced, while not having to walk too far.  

In the interest of ease of entry and seating, spectators will be given colored bracelets that will correspond to their graduates’ colored section on the field.  

“As an example, green section spectators will have a green wristband, will enter through the green section entry gate, and will sit in the green attendee section,” said Nielsen. “Signs will be plentiful to assist spectators through the entry and seating process.” 

Superintendent Mike Kuhlman, following Nielsen’s presentation, thanked the district staff who had put together the graduation plan, and said the district’s goal throughout the planning process was to make it possible for members of the Class of 2021 to experience the momentous ceremony, without fear for their safety or having to quarantine.  

“With all of the restrictions that we have to still deal with, I wanted to focus our attention on the fact that these are things that we didn’t think that we might be even able to entertain just three short months ago,” Kuhlman added. “And so wanted to emphasize the positives on that and thank you for your good work on that Dr. Nielsen.” 

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