REDWOOD CITY (KPIX) – San Mateo County has eased its health order to allow drive-in style graduation ceremonies, providing an option for graduating seniors whose final year of high school has been dramatically interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak and shelter-in-place orders.

“The purpose behind this order was to find some way to celebrate our graduates who have experienced a really disruptive end to their school experience,” says Claire Cunningham, the San Mateo County Counsel.

The county has capped the number of cars at a graduation ceremony at 200. Attendees must remain inside their car except for the moment when their family member crosses the stage to receive their diploma. Face masks are required anytime the car windows are rolled down. Additionally, there would be limited access to bathrooms and the school would be responsible for providing security to enforce the rules.

“The closure I was hoping to get from high school is just completely missing,” says senior Lauren Burt. But Burt says she’s unsure if a drive-in style graduation is all that much better than the online celebration Sequoia High School has been planning.

“I want to be surrounded by my classmates — by my best friends, by everyone who’s supported me these past years,” she said.

And other graduating seniors seem to agree.

“If every person just took one minute, it would be over five hours. I don’t see how that’s better than doing a virtual online graduation,” says Thomas Burt.

Other seniors say the idea is good compromise giving the graduates and their families a small measure of a traditional ceremony.

“Mostly, I’d just do it for my family because they want to see some form of a graduation for me. And I think it would be good for that, you know,” says Spencer Rava.

The San Mateo County Board of Education says it was not aware of any school that had fully committed to a drive-in style celebration.

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