Dear Parents and Guardians,
Throughout the last several days our district has received additional guidance from Kern County Superintendent of Schools and the Kern County Public Health Department regarding graduation and promotion ceremonies.
Specifically, the Kern County Public Health Department issued the following guidance:
1. “All gatherings should be postponed or canceled until further notice.”
2. “Graduation ceremonies are not listed on the federal critical infrastructure list and therefore should not occur.” [It should also be noted that our meal service and distance learning distributions are considered essential and have been mandated by the Governor via executive order, and therefore fall into a separate category]
3. “...plan for a pre-recorded and streamed graduation ceremony.”
We have also seen further instructions on how drive-thru ceremonies could occur; however, they are so restrictive in nature that they would largely diminish the meaningfulness of such an activity (vehicles must be six feet apart, car windows must be closed at all times, all persons must remain in the vehicle at all times, no tangible items — including certificates/diploma covers can be handed out, no handshaking or any other type of contact greeting, etc.). We must also consider with such an approach that not all families in our community have the type of readily available transportation that would allow them to participate in this event—which would either leave some students out, or would force people to ignore social distancing expectations to join others in their car.
This information, in light of the current levels of COVID-19 spread, has required us to postpone any plans for in-person or drive-thru graduation or promotion ceremonies. It is our hope that, if it is safe to do so during the summer (perhaps in the month of July), these in-person traditional celebrations could be rescheduled—likely with some modifications and safety measures in place.
In the meantime, our principals and their staffs are working very hard to prepare high-quality virtual ceremonies that will honor our students and create a lasting keepsake for families. The school sites will be releasing more information in the coming days with specific details.
We know that there is no replacement for the excitement and joy of what we traditionally experience at graduations—and we truly share in the disappointment that is felt by the community. However, this decision could not be made lightly, and we simply cannot — in good conscience — go against the recommendations of health officials and put anyone at risk. As this situation continues to evolve, more information will be released about the possibility of conducting postponed ceremonies into the summer.
We know that the class of 2020 has the resolve, the courage, and the grit to overcome any obstacle — including this one. We truly thank you for your patience and understanding, and our thoughts are with you during this trying time.
Aaron Haughton, Superintendent
Mojave Unified School District