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COVID-19 color tier will dictate grad ceremonies
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The status of high school graduations — a rite of passage converted into a series of drive-thru events last year due to the pandemic — is dependent on how far down the four-colored COVID-19 protocols tier San Joaquin County gets.

The top priority for Manteca Unified is to find a way to safely expand in-person learning time for the balance of the school year. That doesn’t mean some thought isn’t being given already to what form this year’s graduations will take.

But as Manteca Unified Community Outreach Director Victoria Brunn noted, it depends heavily on what colored tier the county is in at the time.

San Joaquin County has stayed in the purple tier while counties nearby have slipped down into the red tier.

Based on current guidance imposed by the California Department of Health, there likely will be no indoor graduation events.

Rules that go in place April 1 allow outdoor live events capped at 100 visitors. Movement to the red allows for 20 percent capacity. The orange tier allows 33 percent capacity while the lowest tier — yellow — caps capacity at 67 percent.

Those are much more generous than the current guidance for outdoor live events in place through March 31. The purple and red tiers currently allow no audiences while the orange is limited to 20 percent and yellow to 25 percent.

The county could deviate from those guidelines and put in more restrictive protocols.

Several school districts, as an example in Placer County, are working on graduation planning based on guidance from that county’s health department. As such they are planning for no more than two guests from the same household as the graduate.

That mirrors rules imposed for sporting events in the Valley Oak League that this pandemic shortened season includes Manteca Unified and Ripon Unified.

Brunn stressed the shape that graduation will take won’t be decided until a point closer to the end of the school year.
Meanwhile the district is reminding people the importance of following COVID-19 protocols. Throughout the pandemic typically extended holiday weekends and extended breaks from school have been followed in spike of positive cases.

The district’s robust self-screening required before either students or staff members can step on campus on any school day has been credited with helping keep confirmed cases low among the Manteca Unified community consisting of 24,000 students and 3,000 teachers and support staff.

The latest dashboard data for the district shows there are currently 11 positive cases among students and four among staff. Six cases involving students and one with a staff member are at Veritas School.

It is the lowest level since the district rolled out its dashboard in December.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email