O’Scanlon, DiMaso and Scharfenberger demand Murphy allow graduation ceremonies in June, Stop micromanaging
Joy that Governor Phil Murphy declared that New Jersey high schools could hold graduation ceremonies turned to anger for many high school students, their families and the elected officials who represent them this week, when they realized how impractical, cumbersome and expensive Murphy’s rules would make the ceremonies. Murphy effectively announced that graduations could take place and then issued guidelines that prevent them from happening.
Senator Declan O’Scanlon and his colleagues representing the 13th Legislative District (northern Monmouth County), Assembly Members Serena DiMaso and Gerry Scharfenberger, are demanding that Murphy give up micromanaging 500+ high school graduations, and most importantly, let the ceremonies occur starting June 15, rather than Murphy’s July 6 date. The school year officials ends on June 30. The school districts will not be staffed nor will they have insurance to cover ceremonies that occur in June.
“We were thrilled to see what appeared to be acquiescence to our request for outdoor graduation ceremonies, only to find out that the Governor has effectively cancelled them with his micro-management.” said O’Scanlon. “As long as they adhere to social distance, they should be permitted from June 15th.”
Among the lengthy list of requirements in the guidance the Department of Education issued includes: mailing diplomas and caps/gowns, emailing the ceremony programs, not allowing families to give flowers or gifts to students, and assigning staff to monitor entrances and exits.
“Staff and insurance policies in school districts end June 30th, what school district would do a ceremony without staff?” DiMaso continued. “By saying that graduation ceremonies cannot take place until July 6th, 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 6th. ”
The guidance also states that the ceremonies must meet the in-person gathering cap applicable at the time. Currently, the capacity for gatherings is 25 people.
“There is no reason as to why there needs to be further delay for graduation ceremonies to occur. In fact, many districts have been long planning how to conduct graduations safely for weeks now,” said Scharfenberger. “Lives cannot continue to be placed on hold for arbitrary data to dictate the differences between June and July events. Districts should be allowed to conduct ceremonies earlier if they see fit and are ready to. We owe it to our parents, schools, teachers, and our students to act sooner rather than later so that they can take full advantage of this once in a lifetime event and begin their walk down future paths!”
“The Governor and administration must stop the micro-management and leave the design of properly-socially-distanced graduation ceremonies to the local officials.” O’Scanlon concluded.