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School districts consider changing graduation requirements this year due to the pandemic

Local school districts are changing graduation requirements so more seniors can graduate this year.

News Channel 3’s Caitlin Thropay explains why these changes may happen.

The Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) outlined in a presentation at their last board meeting how the pandemic has created significant hardships for their students especially graduating seniors. That’s why they are changing their graduation requirements.

“We understand that the pandemic has not been easy on anyone especially our students and our children," Lissette Santiago, the community engagement manager for CVUSD told News Channel 3 on Tuesday.

CVUSD has decided to modify the credits needed to graduate for the class of 2021 from 220 credits to only 180 credits to graduate due to added pressures from the pandemic on seniors.

“This doesn’t mean we are changing all of the graduation requirements," she said. "It doesn’t mean we’re lowering them to 180 for all of our graduating students. It’s only for those students that have had a greater hardship because of the pandemic," she added.

Desert Sands Unified School District (DSUSD) is making the same adjustments to their graduation requirements.

"Students who are scheduled to graduate but fall short of the 220 credit requirement due to a direct result of hardship created by the COVID-19 emergency may qualify for the 180 credit requirement," according to DSUSD public information officer Mary Perry. She also told News Channel 3 that this is a reduction of two elective courses, one math course and one English course. 

At both CVUSD and DSUSD students are advised to reach out to their counselors to see if they qualify for this credit change.

"Determination for qualifying for the program will be made on an individual basis in discussion with the student, parent/guardian, and counselor counselors," according to Perry.

"There’s a lot of family and health challenges, increased responsibilities at home, and increased anxiety and mental health concerns," Santiago said.

Right now, only 60 percent of CVUSD seniors are on track to graduate.

Overall, only 57 percent of all students are on track to graduate in CVUSD.

At DSUSD, 85 percent of seniors are on track to graduate this year. With the 180 credit consideration, the district expects that number to go up to 92 percent.

The credit modification is expected to be temporary and will eventually go back to the 220 credit requirement by 2025. The chart below is from the CVUSD board meeting presentation.

More details on CVUSD's plans here: https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/coach/Board.nsf/Public

Perry also gave News Channel 3 more stats as to how many students from each school in DSUSD are expected to graduate this year: Amistad High School, 115 students. Shadow Hills High School, 434. Indio High School, 428. La Quinta High School, 566. Palm Desert High School, 449. Horizon School, 45. Summit High School, 55.

The Palm Springs Unified School District said they will be discussing reducing graduation credits at their next board meeting on May 11.

News / News Headlines

Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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