For some New York school districts, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to drop Covid restrictions on outdoor debuts came too late to make any changes this year.
The Liverpool School District, for example, started planning in April for the start, which is next weekend. High schools in the Syracuse City School District kick off graduation ceremonies tonight at NBT Bank Stadium and continue this weekend.
Liverpool had booked the State Fair Expo Center a year ago but had to change plans when it was moved for vaccination clinics.
“If our graduation ceremony was to look like past events, the guidelines were to change as soon as possible (in April),” Liverpool Superintendent Mark Potter told Syracuse.com | The Post Standard. “We don’t have the ability to completely change the graduation plans to a different model or ceremony option – given that graduation is only 10 days away.”
Liverpool, which have a separate senior-only graduation ceremony followed by an open-air graduation ceremony, are sticking to their plan. It’s too late to find a bigger room, Potter said.
Schools in Syracuse aren’t making any changes either, said Mike Henesey, a spokesperson for the district.
Most school districts in Onondaga County have planned outdoor ceremonies, but their stadiums do not have the capacity for students to invite as many guests as they would like. Indoors, Covid restrictions only apply if you have more than 5,000 people in a location, according to the rules.
Central Square school district officials held an emergency meeting on Wednesday and decided to consolidate three staggered ceremonies into one for all.
“We thought it was important that everyone graduated together,” said Superintendent Thomas Colbufo.
There is always a limit of four guests per student due to the capacity of the stadium.
Other districts, such as North Syracuse and East Syracuse Minoa, are scrambling to see what changes can be made.
It is simply too late for many districts across the state to change their plans, said Kevin Casey, executive director of the School Administrators Association of New York. This is especially true for large districts.
“It would have been helpful to have more run time,” Casey said. “Communications have already been sent to families and it would be difficult for districts to find a bigger place in a week or so and change everything. “
Casey said it looks like the rules could have been relaxed sooner. Governor Cuomo publicly announced in early June that 70% of New Yorkers were vaccinated, the restrictions would go away for the most part. And infection rates have plummeted on their own, Casey said.
Governor Cuomo announced the 70% milestone earlier this week.
“We always advocate for more time, especially in an environment where the direction is clear,” he said. “All measures were down. “
April 15, Syracuse.com raised the question. He reported that the graduation rules announced by Cuomo, which included proof of vaccination status or obtaining a Covid test, as well as strict restrictions on indoor and outdoor capacity. As governor. Cuomo eased restrictions in the state, rules for beginnings remained in place.
State guidelines for graduation ceremonies and proms have been confusing from the start, he said.
Joshua Czyz, a parent of a high school student in Auburn, said the school has announced that it will not require guests to have proof of a vaccine or clean Covid test for its event. But Czyz said he wanted the state’s announcement to come sooner so districts could move the ceremony and allow more guests.
“Earlier would have been better,” said Robert Lowry, deputy principal of the New York State Council of Principals. “It’s hard for school districts to change now. “
Elizabeth Doran covers education, government and suburban development, breaking news and more. A tip, a comment or a story idea? Contact her anytime at 315-470-3012 or by email [email protected]