NJ schools still confused about how to plan in-person graduation ceremonies
The state Department of Education has issued vague guidance on allowing modified in-person high school graduation ceremonies after July 6, which has left many students, parents and school officials wondering what kind of plans they should try to formulate.
In the DOE advisory issued Wednesday night, the guidance stated “ceremonies must meet the relevant capacity limitation on in-person gatherings in place at the time of the ceremony.”
Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday said the current outside capacity for gatherings where everyone is social distancing is 25 people.
“But if my math is correct, it’s 39 days until July 6, so somewhere between now and a reasonable amount of time from now, we will give some more guidance at to what it feels like to be outside," he said.
He acknowledged the lack of clarity may be frustrating, but added: “I’ll be shocked if it’s 25 or even close to 25 by July 6. We want to give folks notice; I’m just not going to do it today because it’s 39 days out.”
Murphy said the last thing he wants to do is give a capacity number now but then have to pull it back a few weeks later.
“I know you’re frustrated, folks, and I don’t blame you,” he said. “But part of the reason is we want to go down this one way street once and we want to get it right as we possibly can.”
Murphy also said drive-in and drive-thru high school graduation ceremonies that have everyone staying in their vehicles may take place before July 6 as long as preparations began before May 27.
Late Thursday afternoon, state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, all Republicans from Monmouth County, called on the governor to allow modified graduation ceremonies to begin June 15.
DiMaso said in a written statement that staff and insurance policies in school districts end June 30.
“By saying that graduation ceremonies cannot take place until July 6, after those policies end, the administration is able to cancel in-person graduations without actually having to cancel them. There doesn’t appear to be anything magical about July 6.”