DOH Graduation Guide clarifies commencement options

Compliant with Safe Start plan

QUAD CITIES –The release on May 14 of an updated COVID-19 graduation ceremonies guide issued by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) finds Quad City school districts in various stages of readiness for Class of 2020 commencements.

Graduation planners at Pateros, Brewster, Bridgeport and Mansfield are all approaching the big day with creative ways to help their seniors experience an enjoyable, not to mention memorable, graduation exercise in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DOH guide invests local school boards and superintendents with the discretion to arrange their own school graduation celebrations as long as those proceedings “do not contravene the Governor’s prohibitions on holding gatherings in each of the time phases of the Safe Start plan,” the guide said.
“Districts and schools may choose to postpone graduation ceremonies,” the guide advises. “It is not when large-scale, in-person events, not allowed under Phase 4 of Safe Start, will be able to be safely held.”
The guide includes recommendations for both in-home and out-of-home models and goes into some detail for out-of-home ceremonies for Phase 2 options only, the more likely scenario to be in effect in early June.
That noted, local schools are pressing ahead with plans to usher their senior classes safely through a mixture of online, onsite and on wheels experiences.
The Class of 2020 will hold its graduation ceremony on June 12. The school is prepared to exercise one of three options:
1. If social distancing guidelines remain in effect on June 12, graduation will be held in Memorial Park with fireworks accompanying the ceremony.
2. If social distancing guidelines have been lifted, normal graduation ceremonies will be held in the school gym.
3. If stay-at-home restrictions remain in effect, a virtual graduation ceremony will be held.
The Bears are proceeding deliberately with a variety of options that are being adjusted and refined as circumstances dictate.
“At this point we are seeking approval for a diploma cover delivery and a graduate parade through town,” said high school principal Linda Dezellem. “Our senior slide show will be uploaded for viewing which will end with a live streaming of the beginning of the parade.”
The Senior Spotlight, available online via a link on the school district main page at, highlights the seniors’ high school activities and post-secondary plans.




At 5 p.m. on June 5, the Class of 2020 will conduct diploma cover reception from a convoy of vehicles that will culminate in an escorted parade through the entire town. Resident families are encouraged to set up celebration in their yards to acknowledge the passing seniors. Non-resident families will have access to the city parks to set up their celebration sites.




“We have a proposed plan,” said principal Richardo Garcia of the Kernels eight-member graduation class.
As of this writing the details are still awaiting approval of the school board.
“I will say that the speeches will be virtual,” Garcia said.

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