Skip to Content

Santa Barbara County Health Department allows more freedoms for graduation ceremonies amidst pandemic



Districts across Northern Santa Barbara County are reassessing what high school graduations will look like after Public Health modified what's allowed for the ceremonies.

“Given the circumstances, we are trying to make graduations as special as possible,” said SMJUHSD Superintendent Antonio Garcia.

The Santa Barbara County Health Department has changed several restrictions for graduations.

“The students will be able to exit the car, receive their diploma, and have a picture taken of them,” said Garcia.

Students at the four high schools in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District will do that and also get to watch pre-recorded ceremonies.

“It's a big production and we are excited and looking forward to it because the students have really earned it,” said Garcia.

Meanwhile, Lompoc Unified School District is celebrating new grads by taking advantage of the health department's decision to allow gatherings under 100 people.
Maple High will get a ceremony.

“They will have about 8 students at a time, they will be able to invite family members,” said
Lompoc Unified School District's Director of Pupil Support Services and Special Ed, Brian Jaramillo.

Lompoc and Cabrillo high schools will do car graduations allowing students to get out of the car and receive their diplomas.

“Which I think is important to them and important to the families,” said Jaramillo.

Orcutt Academy students will still attend a pre-recorded virtual viewing.

“We have rented a huge movie screen that is a drive-in theater style,” said Superintendent of Orcutt Union School District Dr. Debbie Blow

The graduates there are expected to stay in their cars with family members.

“Originally there were only 5 family members allowed in a car,” said Dr. Blow.

Now any number of family members can join as long as they don't exceed the capacity of the car.

SB County Supervisor Elect Bob Nelson appealed to the health department with a number of parents and educators in agreement to give graduation students more flexibility for graduation ceremonies amidst the pandemic. Prior protocols restricted the ability for graduates to receive diplomas or awards as well as leave their cars.

The health department mandated that Graduations may now provide:
Through streaming or other technology; or
In-person if all of the following protocols are followed:
All activities must occur outdoors. Inside ceremonies are prohibited;
All persons attending the activity must be inside a motor vehicle occupied only by persons from the same household or living unity;
All motor vehicles at the gathering must maintain at least a minimum distance of six feet from all other vehicles;
Graduates may be outside the vehicle to walk across a stage, receive a diploma/award, or have a photo taken as long as social distancing of at least six feet is maintained at all times; and
Diplomas, certificates, and programs may be distributed from school to graduate or participants in car.
An option for schools to assemble an outdoor graduation ceremony is possible if the total number of all attendees is less than 100 people and social distancing is maintained.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Naja Hill

Naja Hill is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Naja, click here.


News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content