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Lompoc school leaders reveal graduation plans, leaving open possibility of in-person ceremonies
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Lompoc school leaders reveal graduation plans, leaving open possibility of in-person ceremonies

After the COVID-19 pandemic effectively wiped out the final semester of on-campus courses, Lompoc Unified School District leaders on Tuesday unveiled plans to celebrate this year’s senior class.

After surveying students, parents and school staff, an LUSD Graduation Committee comprised of 16 district leaders developed a game plan to hold in-person commencement ceremonies possibly as soon as their originally scheduled dates in early June.

The plan includes contingencies that, depending upon the status of the coronavirus crisis, could see the implementation of “drive-through” or “drive-up” celebrations in June, with in-person ceremonies to follow in August or later.

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“Although we wish our world could go back to ‘normal’ and our graduation ceremonies would go on as originally planned, we feel it is essential to plan for our students and families and commit dates to this very important milestone,” read a portion of a statement from the committee. “We are proud of our students, families and community members, and we know that together we can get through these challenging times.”

The survey results, which were reviewed by the committee members, indicated that students and families wanted more than just a virtual celebration, according to the committee.

Principal Paul Bommersbach began work late last week on a mural on the southern wall of the Lompoc High gym that includes the names of the 360 members of this year’s senior class, as well as a couple messages of support for the class. That move is in addition to a large banner that the school has begun publicly displaying around the city to congratulate the class on its accomplishments, despite what turned out to be an abbreviated final year.

If the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department lifts the shelter-at-home restrictions by May 21 and allows public gatherings, LUSD leaders intend to proceed as scheduled with a graduation ceremony for students at Maple High School on June 3, and ceremonies for Lompoc and Cabrillo High schools on June 4. Social distancing measures would be put into place.

If the public health restrictions are not lifted before May 21, the district will plan to hold a “drive-up” celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 3 at Maple High School, and “drive-through” celebrations for Lompoc and Cabrillo graduates from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 4.

Under that latter scenario, each school would provide graduates and their families with details on what those social distance ceremonies would entail, according to LUSD.

If those mobile celebrations are implemented, they could be followed by in-person gatherings in August or even later in the year.

If the public health guidelines allow for public gatherings by July 31, according to the district, Maple, Lompoc and Cabrillo high schools would each hold in-person ceremonies on Aug. 14 with social distancing measures in place.

If the county does not allow for public gatherings by July 31, the LUSD Graduation Committee reported that it will announce a “future date for an in-person graduation as soon as possible.”

The date of the public health restrictions being lifted is key so that graduates and their families will have enough time to prepare.

“LUSD recognizes that families need to know potential dates ahead of time for planning and family travel purposes for any in-person graduation ceremony and need to have clear, timely communication about the guidelines and restrictions,” read the statement from the committee.

Whenever the in-person ceremonies are held, LUSD reported that all attendance requirements will be in accordance with state and county health recommendations and will be publicized at least two weeks in advance of each respective ceremony.

The LUSD Graduation Committee is comprised of staff from each of LUSD’s five high school diploma programs — Lompoc, Cabrillo and Maple high schools, as well as the Bob Forinash Community Day School and the Lompoc Adult School and Career Center — plus administrators from the district office.

For more information about LUSD, visit lusd.org.

Photos: Lompoc High class of 2020 gets drive-through honors

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Reporter

Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base for the Lompoc Record. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.

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