The letter starts “Dear 2020 Graduates” and what follows is something the majority of students in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District didn’t want to hear.
No in person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020. No senior graduation, no eighth grade promotion, no charter or alternative education ceremonies.
Plans are being put in place for a ‘drive-thru’ style event but there will be no gatherings in The Corral or elsewhere to celebrate the graduates.
“At this time, social distancing protocols still do now allow mass gatherings in a school setting, and with the recent spike in positive virus cases in our County it does not appear that those protocols will change anytime soon,” School District Superintendent Marc Malone wrote in his letter, posted Tuesday, July 21 on the district website. “With that information, we regretfully announce that the OJUSD will provide site specific Drive-In/Drive Thru graduation ceremonies.”
Previously, the district had made tentative plans – with a variety of options – for allowing in-person graduations but also indicated the ability to have those ceremonies would be dependent on the COVID-19 situation. Stanislaus County, among those on the state’s monitoring list, has seen an increase in cases and will begin the school year with distance learning, as will other schools across the state.
District officials had set July 21 as the date for making the decision on how to proceed with a graduation event since that would give them adequate time to prepare ... whatever the scenario.
Now, with a return to tighter restrictions, Malone wrote that the drive-in, drive-thru celebration will have to do.
“The Oakdale Joint Unified School District sincerely apologizes that we are not able to accommodate your request for our traditional ceremonies,” Malone added in his letter. “You are to be commended for the grit and resiliency you have displayed as you have navigated the entirety of the school closure.”
The graduation event for Oakdale Charter and Alternative Education will be hosted on Wednesday, July 29 with Oakdale Junior High School having a ceremony on Thursday, July 30 and Oakdale High School rounding out the ceremonies on Friday, July 31. Malone said students would be contacted by officials at their respective schools with additional information and “specific logistics” for the ceremonies.
The superintendent added that district personnel wish students “continued success as you embark on the next stage of your journey through life.”
Members of the OJUSD board, meanwhile, will gather for a special school board meeting on Monday, July 27. The session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Technology and Staff Development Center at 331 Hinkley Ave., but attendance is limited to ‘essential participants’ which includes the board members and cabinet member.
Others wanting to attend can do so by going online to view the live webcast. Go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZdB-OF9xQSDVe3Csc84K0w
Public comments at the session will be taken and the main focus of the meeting will be the discussion on school re-opening with a Distance Learning Model in place. To offer public comment, call 209-848-4205, Ext. 26; the public comment period is scheduled to start about 6:35 p.m.
The board will review the distance learning model and are scheduled to adopt Resolution #20-21-01, which provides for the re-opening of schools in early August under that model.