REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) – With the Class of 2020 set to graduate during the coronavirus pandemic, drive-by graduation ceremonies in San Mateo and Contra Costa counties are being allowed under a new order by the counties health officers.
San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow issued an order permitting certain “Highly Regulated Vehicle-Based Gatherings” on Monday.
Among the many provisions in San Mateo County’s order, gatherings would be invitation-only, are limited to no more than 200 vehicles, and must be three hours or less. Any gathering with 10 or more vehicles will require security staffing and any gathering plan must be provided to law enforcement and to local officials at least a week in advance.
People in each vehicle must be from a single household, the order also states. Vehicles must be enclosed, which excludes motorcycles, bicycles or a convertible with the top down. Vehicle occupants must wear face coverings if windows are rolled down. Distribution of diplomas must also adhere to social distancing and face-covering requirements.
Morrow stressed his order does not supersede other parts of the county’s ongoing shelter-in-place order (.pdf), which continues until at least May 31st.
Also on Monday, Contra Costa Health Services issued similar guidelines in a document titled “Interim Guidance for Graduation Ceremonies.” While Contra Costa’s order also allows for drive-by graduation ceremonies with up to 200 vehicles, families could walk or bike to the graduation site, provided there is a safe staging area where groups can social distance.
Along with drive-by graduations, health officials in the East Bay county also permitted a small group graduation ceremony for up to 25 students aged 13 or older. In the small group ceremony, parents or extended family would not be included, students would be sitting six feet apart, with all in attendance wearing face coverings.
The updated guidance comes as schools across the Bay Area look to honor their graduates amid the pandemic. Some schools have opted to hold virtual ceremonies, while others consider postponing events.
In Santa Clara County, health officials have banned car parades to celebrate graduations and birthdays, saying it is a violation of the shelter-in-place order.