With in-person graduation now permitted, NJ school districts start to plan
As the parent of a senior at Brick Memorial High School, Tracey Primavera had one last milestone she and her daughter could "pray for," since basically every other major event was ripped away by the COVID-19 health crisis.
"To see my only daughter be able to walk across the stage and graduate high school, it means more to me than anything," Primavera told New Jersey 101.5.
So when the family heard Tuesday morning that the Governor's Office would permit in-person, outdoor graduation ceremonies come July 6, the mood in the household shifted completely, she said.
"It's some light after darkness," she said.
Brick Township Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Farrell said Gov. Phil Murphy's announcement confirmed the move district officials had been holding out for.
"I think it's very important for the class of 2020 to have some in-person conferring of diplomas, and recognition, and that's what we're going to do," Farrell said.
The state Department of Education and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education are expected to release guidance on Wednesday that will include requirements meant to minimize the potential of spreading COVID-19. As part of the requirements, according to the Governor's Office, districts must adhere to capacity limitations and determine the minimum number of staff and faculty necessary to facilitate the commencement ceremonies, and manage attendance accordingly.
"If we have to do multiple smaller ceremonies, then we will," said Charles Sampson, superintendent of the Freehold Regional High School District.
Sampson said the district intends to proceed as planned with a virtual graduation on June 24, and in-person graduation on July 27 and potentially other dates.
"We anticipated that we would be allowed to do something; we just weren't sure what that might look like," Sampson said.
Toms River Regional Schools, and its superintendent David Healy, said it's excited and encouraged by Murphy's announcement, and that it's always been Healy's intention to host in-person ceremonies for outgoing seniors.
"It’s important that all who have contributed to the success of our 2020 graduates — faculty members, parents, families, and of course the students themselves — can share in this once-in-a-lifetime, momentous experience in a safe, healthy, and comfortable manner," the district said in an emailed statement. "The district will provide more information as it receives additional guidance."
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.