Newport-Mesa seniors behind on credits will have chance to graduate this year

Honor student Jordan Galante dresses in her academic achievements with help from brother Zion who prepares her cap.
Honor student Jordan Galante dresses in her academic achievements with help from brother Zion who prepares her cap, as she prepares to watch the 2020 graduation ceremony via TV broadcast with her family at her home.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

After the caps are thrown and the ceremony’s over and done this June, Newport-Mesa seniors just a few credits shy of graduation will still be able to graduate — as long as they make it up this summer.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a temporary waiver this Tuesday that will allow seniors within 20 credits of completing their graduation requirements to graduate if they obtain those credits from adult education or summer remediation programs recognized by the district and present them for consideration before Sept. 30.

Those students won’t be able to walk at graduation, said Assistant Supt. Sara Jocham.

The district is planning to hold in-person graduations this June, with the exception of those attending the 100% online Cloud Campus. Attendance at the graduations will be limited for safety concerns and masks and social distancing will be required.

“We’ve never [offered a similar graduation waiver] before,” said Phil D’Agostino, director of student and community services with the district. “We ... all know there are some students who are COVID casualties.”

D’Agostino said that during the pandemic there has been a potential for learning loss, especially for seniors that may need to hold jobs to help support their families or have had other responsibilities this academic year.

Secondary schools returned to full-day instruction on Tuesday with students attending four days a week. Only one day is left for remote learning, though which day that will be is up to the individual campuses.

“We just want to provide every opportunity possible for a student to obtain a diploma,” said D’Agostino. “I think in the interest of compassion and grace, this is a good thing to do.”

The district loosened guidelines on graduation in April last year, lowering the total number of credits required for graduation from 230 to 220. Elective credits dropped from 80 to 70.

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