Weekly roundup: Graduation season, reopening guidance, grading during the pandemic, and more

As we shared previously, districts in Orange County and throughout California are taking innovative approaches to honoring the class of 2020 while following social distancing guidelines to keep students, staff and families safe.

Celebrating about 130 graduating seniors over the course of three days, Brea Olinda High School staged a drive-through commencement ceremony this week, complete with caps, gowns, balloons and flowery leis.

Graduate in car

Students were grouped by last name and given specific times to show up on campus. Each arrived in their vehicle, stopping once to walk across a stage and collect their diploma and again for a family photo op by the gymnasium. The Orange County Register captured the moment with a gallery of images.

Meanwhile, Aliso Niguel High School graduates were similarly greeted by music, confetti, signs and cheers during a drive-through cap-and-gown pickup event at the campus.

Here are some of other school-related stories from the week ending June 5:

  • The California Department of Public Health released interim guidance for schools and school–based programs on Friday. The state Department of Education is expected to follow on Monday with its recommendations for reopening K-12 campuses.
  • During a national trauma, kids can experience increased levels of stress and anxiety. In light of recent events, the OCDE Newsroom re-shared a list of things to keep in mind when helping children cope with tragedy.
  • In a column addressing the death of George Floyd and the civil unrest that’s followed, Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares says Americans must unite behind shared values and “create the change we wish to see in our lifetimes and for future generations.”
  • Discussing the death of George Floyd during an emotionally charged speech, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond called for “hard conversations” to address racial bias, equity and social justice.
  • As she finished cleaning out her classroom, fifth-grade teacher Margie Wright of Loma Vista Elementary School reflected on “the most anticlimactic ending to a school year ever.”
  • Despite protests by some students, the Register reported that Newport-Mesa Unified officials are moving forward with plans for virtual commencement ceremonies with the goal of protecting public health and allowing the widest level of participation.
  • The Register reports that Los Alamitos High School is considering hosting on-campus athletic camps starting June 15 under modifications and the guidelines recently set by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
  • School districts and nonprofit organizations that are working to feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic have lost at least $1 billion across the country, USA Today reports. The losses are taking their toll on district budgets.
  • The Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement this week cautioning that delaying a meaningful return to in-person education in Los Angeles County could have negative consequences that outweigh the risks of COVID-19 transmission.
  • OCDE’s Friday Night Live program has launched a student advisory group to help drive countywide substance abuse prevention efforts and mental health initiatives from a youth perspective.
  • The UC system recently made headlines by announcing it would drop SAT and ACT testing requirements from its admissions process. But some school counselors are urging students to take the exams anyway to keep their options open.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.