Due to a positive COVID-19 case in the Lost River community, Lost River High School’s in-person graduation previously scheduled for Saturday, July 4 has been moved to a virtual ceremony and drive-thru diploma pickup, according to a letter written by LRHS Principal Jamie Ongman.
Ongman said the decision to pivot from an in-person ceremony to a combination of a virtual ceremony and drive-thru diploma pickup stemmed from safety concerns after an individual who is within a “school aged group of kids” tested positive with COVID-19. A conversation between Lost River High School, Klamath County School District, and Klamath County Public Health and “possible multiple exposures” from the COVID-19 case helped determine the need to make necessary changes to the graduation format.
“This change comes with disappointment as well as a heavy heart, however it is necessary to ensure the safety of our students and community,” Ongman wrote in a post to Facebook on Thursday morning. “The ceremony will be broadcast via a link on the school’s website at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, July 4. Please inform all your guests that graduation on-site at Lost River has been switched to virtual and individuals will not have access to the Lost River campus.”
The high school held a parade in June to celebrate graduates, but had postponed the official graduation ceremony for July 4, in part to give leeway to be able to have as traditional of a graduation as possible and also to make Independence Day personal for graduates who navigated so many restrictions and cancellations this spring.
“We moved it to July 4 under those assumptions that hopefully restrictions would be lessened,” Ongman said.
“Circumstances beyond our control and something that you really can’t plan for popped up and changed our plan,” he added. “It’s very much an emotional roller coaster, I would have to tell you.
“Our decision was made solely on what’s best for the community and the students, with minimizing the risk that could potentially be a factor if we were to gather in person.”
Graduation rehearsal, planned for Friday, July 3 has also been canceled.
Only the valedictorians and salutatorian will be allowed to enter the building to deliver their speeches during the ceremony on Saturday.
Graduation will still contain all the elements originally planned, such as the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, a guest speaker, and a slideshow, according to a statement on Facebook. The names of graduates will be read as if they were crossing the stage.
Students can pick up their diploma drive-thru style, though individuals are asked not to loiter in the school parking lot after receiving their diploma.
Attendees are encouraged to enter through the north gates and exit through the south gates.
Graduates must arrive at the following times to receive their diploma:
— 1:00 to 1:15 p.m.: Valedictorians, salutatorian and honor graduates
— 1:20 to 1:40 p.m.: Students with last names starting with A – F
— 1:45 to 2:05 p.m.: Students with last names starting with G – O
— 2:10 to 2:30 p.m.: Students with last names starting with P – Z
Senior pictures at the event have been canceled.
“As disappointing as the format of graduation is ... I’m thankful that we got to have our parade, our awards night, and our virtual signing day, senior barbecue,” Ongman said, referencing activities the school hosted prior to graduation.
Viewers can access the graduation via the following link: http://www.kcsd.k12.or.us/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=77