If NJ schools don’t reopen, what happens to graduation?
New Jersey schools remain closed until at least May 15 because of the COVID-19 crisis. But with so much uncertainty, school administrators are looking at possible plans for graduation scenarios in June and beyond.
“Districts will make every effort that they can to do something, if it’s into the summertime even potentially, to honor the students that are graduating if it’s safe to do so at that time,” said Richard Bozza, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.
“We’ll have to see what happens as the coronavirus infections start to dwindle down and when people can start to return to some sort of normalcy. We’re all hoping that will be sooner than later," he said last week.
Tom Farrell, the superintendent of schools in Brick, said having graduation ceremonies is an important milestone for the students and their families.
“And we want to hold onto those events as long as we can, even if we had to offer it the first week in August before many of these students went on to college or the work force, we would have offered something.”
Bozza said if in-person graduations turn out to not be possible, “there’s a lot of conversation about what can be done with some kind of an online program, which certainly would not be the same but might be able to give some recognition for the students that have completed their secondary careers.”
“Obviously, if you have a large graduating class it gets to be very difficult, so maybe some kind of an abbreviated ceremony. We’re all inventing our way from school board meetings to online learning to what happens for graduation.”
Farrell said there have been some out-of-the-box conversations about options, including drive-up ceremonies and a "fall formal" or homecoming dance that would invite back college students and graduates.
“Dealing with a crisis, something that is so unknown like COVID-19, is sort of like building the plane as you’re flying it. We’re all learning and making decisions as we go," Farrell said.
“All options are kind of on the table — I mean within health officials guidelines, of course.”