PASO ROBLES – The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District virtually met online on Tuesday, May 26. What is usually a time of excitement for summer and graduations, board members are faced again to make decisions and get creative in a way they never have before.

High school seniors of 2020 will experience graduation in a drastically different way from seniors who came before them. While they may not be able to graduate as they initially thought they would when the school year started way back in August 2019, Paso Robles High is getting creative to celebrate their seniors in other ways.

On June 5, Paso Robles High School celebrated its seniors with a drive through celebration. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., seniors and their families decorated their cars and drove through to pick up their caps and gowns, honors, awards, and cords from teachers and staff.

This celebration did not replace graduation.

In April 2020, surveys were handed out to parents and students on what they want to see happen for senior graduation. 

Jen Gaviola stated, “One of the essential voices we heard from every stakeholder, teachers, parents, and students is that they wanted to have the most tradition possible graduation, and be safe for kids.”

Staff in the Paso Robles school district have put a lot of effort into creating a graduation that feels as normal as possible while still abiding by CDC guidelines. During the school board meeting on May 26, trustees gave the green light to move forward with small group graduation ceremonies. 

With more details to come, the current graduation is set to take place at War Memorial Stadium on July 8, 9, 10, and 11 at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. daily, as stated on a Paso Robles School’s Facebook post. 

There will be 16-18 groups of 25 graduating students from Paso Robles High School, Liberty High School and Independence High School. Each student is projected to be allowed eight family member tickets. One family member will be designated to hand out their graduate’s diploma to keep with physical distancing requirements.

Traditional graduation speeches like Valedictorian, Salutatorian, ASB President, and others will be pre-recorded and played during each ceremony. Each ceremony may be broadcast or live-streamed for those who cannot make it. Each ceremony is expected to last about 30-45 minutes in length.

While students and their families will not be able to request what day and time they graduate, they will be able to ask who they graduate with, and accommodations will be met if possible. By June 10, 2020, graduates will have their assigned date and time for the ceremony.

Chairs will be sanitized after each ceremony, and as of now, if physical distancing can be met, masks will not be required during the ceremonies. 

With a focus on giving graduating seniors a traditional (as traditional as they can get at least), there will be drive-thru promotions for eight graders heading into high school.

More information on graduating procedures is coming, but I am sure seniors and their families are happy to hear this positive news.

PRJUSD has been looking to expand its homeschool system. During the May 26 meeting, a suggested general plan for homeschool growth was given. Trustees are planning to vote on the program during the June 4 meeting.

A survey is being sent out to Paso Robles parents for their input on reopening schools for the 2020/2021 school year. The district is planning to use a “grow as you go” model for homeschool expansion rather than a “build then fill” approach. The current proposed plan has a planning phase, year one and year two, and beyond period.

Year one proposes a shift to the hybrid model. Per the Suggested General Plan for Homeschool Growth, “Grade-level classes each week for certain subjects (particularly VAPA, PE, history, and science), English and math taught at home (excepting middle school math with 2-3 days of on-campus instruction)”. 

Students in this hybrid schooling will still be “allowed to participate in their district homeschool athletic teams or social activities as reasonably accommodated.” 

The suggested growth plan says for “Year one, and we will use a variety of existing and free curriculums and field test new curriculum alternatives with the goal of eventually offering a variety of recommended curriculum.”

Year two is focused on adding more staff and form support networks for parents and homeschool engagement.

From all options proposed, it seems parents and students can expect a hybrid approach to schooling. Every detail in how that is going to happen is still unclear. 

For more information on the proposed homeschooling plan, the current homeschooling program, and other options to be considered, see the May 26, agenda at pasoschools.org

Getting through this together, Paso Robles