Graduation guidelines for 2020 seniors disappointing for many

With high schools getting ready for alternative graduation ceremonies, Contra Costa County Health Services has issued a list of guidelines for schools to follow.

While most graduations figure to be online, those new rules allow some schools to have a drive through event.

Behind the scenes at Horizons Center for Indepenent Study in Pleasant Hill, planning for graduation is well underway.

Carlene Hunt is planning the May 30 graduation for the 71 seniors and the 26 graduates of nearby Prospect Alternative High School.

The plan is to hold the ceremony online. But there's a twist planned. Following the speeches, students can drive to the school with their families wearing masks.

"At that time they will see decorations and there teachers spaced every 6-12 feet. They will drive to a table with a diploma the principal has set out. And they can drive up and take it away," Hunt said.

Drive-through graduation is accepted under the latest health guidelines released Tuesday.

County Health said all events must be outdoors, have social distancing and no more than 25 students and teachers can attend any one event. No family.

"Imagine doing something like that with a high school graduating class of 600-700. You would have to stage 25 or 30 of them. For most schools that doesn't make sense," said Terry Koehne, the Contra Costa County Office of Education spokesman.

Most high schools are too big to accommodate drive through graduation.

"There are so many logistical things that go into having to stage an event where people cycle through, get out of their car, wait a certain amount before teh next person comes up to receive their diploma. Our county is strongly urging people to look at a remote or virtual approach," said Koehne.

Virtual graduation is what Pittsburg High has planned for its approximately 800 seniors.

Among them are the Quintero twins who said they accept it, but they're not exactly thrilled by it.

"It's still a bum not to have the in-person graduation at the Concord Pavilion. Our class is so big. But we've got to make it happen any way we can," said Luz Quintero.

"[It makes my] heart melt because we didn't have a senior year, the senior activities we were promised freshman year," said her brother Sergio.

But, are they looking forward to a virtual graduation?

"Not as much. Just another day," they both said.

The county is permitting a graduation in a big parking lot, but no more than 200 autos allowed, all spaced at least six feet apart. No one would be allowed to gets out of their car.