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Manhattan Beach Mulls High School Graduation Options

May 03, 2021 09:20PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Mira Costa High School graduation in 2018 - Photo via MBUSD

In Manhattan Beach, the graduation ceremony for Mira Costa High School's Class of 2021 will look different from past ceremonies - but how different? The high school is considering an array of options - and a lot of math.

One question yet to be answered is if Los Angeles County will be in the Orange Tier or in the (lower, less restrictive Yellow Tier) of COVID-19 restrictions by graduation day, June 17. That tier will define capacity restrictions for Waller Stadium, the site of the Mira Costa graduation. 

The guidelines to keep in mind, according to Mira Costa High School Principal Ben Dale, include:
  • Outdoor event capacity in the Orange Tier is limited to 33%, or 67% if all are either fully vaccinated, or provide a negative COVID test 72 hours prior to the event.
  • Outdoor event capacity in the Yellow Tier is 67% of the facility, with non-vaccinated households sitting at least six feet from each other.
  • Waller Stadium has 896 total sections of six feet that can accommodate 3-4 people each.
  • Waller Stadium has 184 sections if six feet of spacing all the way around is employed.
  • There are 632 grads in the class of 2021.
  • Multiple graduation sessions must have a two hour break in between for cleaning and sanitation.
  • Six feet spacing and masking is required for all non-vaccinated participants.
  • Vaccinated seating sections do not require six feet of spacing between household groups.

  • This leads to three options, according to Dale, which include: 

    (1) One live-streamed ceremony with all the graduates on the field together and no spectators;
    (2) Four live-streamed ceremonies, each with 160 grads and spectators (four per graduate); or
    (3) One live-streamed ceremony where almost all of the spectators show proof of being fully vaccinated, where each graduate could have up to four spectators.

    Regarding option #3, said MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews, while there would be accommodations made for individuals who cannot be vaccinated, including younger siblings or those with conditions that prevent inoculation, the plan would only work if a "super high percentage" of the spectators are fully vaccinated.

    Which direction seems the most likely? Dale said in an email to parents on Monday that the Mira Costa seniors voted by a narrow margin of 165-115 for the option of having one ceremony and no spectators. However, he said, that opinion could change.

    "It is not a sweeping mandate, so we are looking at options to maximize our seating, including the use of fully vaccinated spectator seating sections to support a single, live-streamed ceremony with all 632 grads on Cooper Field. Stay tuned," wrote Dale.

    Matthews said in an email to parents that the school board would be discussing the issue at its Wednesday night meeting

    In the meantime, Matthews noted, there are 41 days until graduation and the vaccination process can take up to 35 days. He urged those who are considering getting vaccinated, and who have a student who is graduating, to consider making a vaccination appointment.

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