Senator James Skoufis (D-Woodbury), along with many of his colleagues in the Senate Majority, sent a letter Wednesday to the Governor urging that guidance be developed to permit outdoor, in-person, socially distant high school graduation ceremonies starting in July.
On Tuesday, New Jersey’s Governor announced that his state will allow outdoor, in-person, high school graduation ceremonies starting July 6. In the letter to Governor Cuomo, the Senators asserted that as long as social distancing is maintained and public health guidelines are followed, including mask-wearing, New York State ought to provide students with the meaningful opportunity to graduate with their classmates.
"It’s ever-important that public health practices be maintained as we move to provide New Yorkers the meaningful opportunities they deserve like graduation ceremonies," Skoufis said. "These students have persevered and finished school through incredibly challenging circumstances that none of us have ever previously experienced; we have an obligation to ensure they are adequately recognized and have an opportunity to celebrate together before they start the next chapter of their lives. While public health precautions remain paramount - and there must be zero-tolerance enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing at these events - our students deserve a proper, safe commencement day.”
The proposal for July graduations has bi-partisan support. Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R-C-New Windsor), a Valley Central graduate, is also urging the governor and the New York State Department of Education to follow New Jersey’s lead in authorizing in-person outdoor socially distant summertime graduation ceremonies.
"Extraordinary steps have been taken to keep our students and communities healthy and safe during COVID-19 including the cancelation of in-person graduation ceremonies following a curtailed school year," Schmitt said. "The recent start of the phased reopening process for the Mid-Hudson Valley is a positive sign though of emerging from this crisis."