CUSD Announces Plans for Graduations, Proms, and More

CUSD Superintendent Dr. Eimear O’Farrell announced a traditional graduation ceremony for the 2021 graduating class on Friday, April 9. (Ron Webb/CUSD)

Clovis Unified students are receiving the news that they have been anticipating for months, as Superintendent Dr. Eimear O’Farrell announced updates for the graduations, proms and other events on Friday, April 9.

In a video message, Dr. O’Farrell says that in-person, traditional graduation ceremonies will be held for the Class of 2021 high school class as well as individual graduation experiences for charter and alternative school students.

“Throughout the past year, our class of 2021 has always been on my mind,” O’Farrell said. “Putting on a cap and gown, walking into Veteran’s [Memorial], Lamonica or Mercedes Edwards theater with your fellow graduates, and hearing your family celebrate you is an experience like none other.”

Dr. O’Farrell says that Friday’s decisions culminated months-long effort between the Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) and the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH).

Increased vaccinations, improved COVID conditions and lessened restrictions on gatherings were the driving force for end of the year events to occur.

However, come late May, events will still have to adhere to health and safety guidelines and social distancing requirements and capacity limits determined by Fresno County’s placement on the state’s tier system.

Fresno County is currently in the red tier of the color-coded system.

According to Associate Superintendent School Leadership Corrine Folmer, if Fresno County is still in the red tier by graduation season, outdoor events can have 20% capacity. If the county moves to the orange tier, then 33% capacity is allowed, with up to 67% capacity if attendees provide proof of vaccination.

At 20% capacity, Veteran’s Memorial Stadium would house 1,700 attendees in the stands, and Lamonica Stadium would hold around 1,260 attendees. Both numbers are based on six-foot social distancing.

It is unclear what other venue’s capacity limits would be.

There is also a possibility of splitting graduations into two-night events depending on the number of participants. Participation surveys will be sent out to schools next week.

As for prom, CUSD’s proposal was approved by health officials but will include requirements like COVID testing.

Testing allows a more traditional prom that includes dancing and interaction between the students.

The approval also includes awards and other senior experiences.

Schools are working with their student planning committees to finalize plans for proms, awards and other senior experiences.

“Thank you for being patient, as we’ve watched some waited for improvements that let us announce these impressive ceremonies,” O’Farrell said. “Together, we really have got this.”

Anthony De Leon is a journalist who started his career in 2017, covering sports for the Fresno City College Rampage, earning his Associate Degree in the process. He then moved on to Fresno State, working for The Collegian serving as Sports Editor, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in print journalism. In August, he will begin attending Reynold’s School of Journalism Master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.