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Local school districts planning for outdoor graduations

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school graduations can happen beginning June 26, but only outdoors and only with a maximum of 150 people.

Posted: Jun 8, 2020 6:14 PM
Updated: Jun 8, 2020 6:50 PM

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school graduations can happen beginning June 26, but only outdoors and only with a maximum of 150 people.

While that may work for smaller districts, some of the larger school districts may face some challenges.

The governor’s announcement was good news for students, staff and families within the New York Mills School District. They have 45 graduating seniors this year.

“It is wonderful, it is a small class, they’re very cohesive, it’s a family district, so to have our students be able to be all together and not have to split the ceremony, it’s a win-win," said Superintendent Joanne Shelmidine.

The only difference this year, is the location of the ceremony and the amount of people who can attend.

Shelmidine says they plan to hold the ceremony on the football field on July 11 at 11 a.m. and students can have up two guests.

“Typically we have a lot of traditions here, and our graduation is usually in the auditorium and it follows a very traditional format," Shelmidine said. "It’s certainly an opportunity for them to break away from tradition a little bit , it’s something we’ve never done before so they are able to put their own stamp on it.”

Rome Free Academy has 345 students graduating this year. Peter Blake, the superintendent, says they will be holding separate ceremonies.

“With a 150 person requirement, we can’t do anything in one ceremony, we are planning separate ceremonies that allow as many students as possible at a time with two family members to the ceremony," Blake said. "What’s most important is that the kids, not just in Rome, but everywhere have a traditional ceremony with their parents and graduate in person.”

Rome recently submitted a plan to the state for a drive-thru graduation.

“That would have entailed students coming through in about a 12-hour time frame, to drive into the stadium, get out of their car, walk the stage, get back in and go on their way, so fortunately we’re not going to be needing to do that plan," Blake said.

Rome's graduation will be on June 27 starting at 8 a.m.

"Each group is going to take about an hour because in between sessions we have to completely sanitize the entire facility, so that would be where the students sit, where the parents sit, so we have to leave that buffer in there to make sure that we can sanitize things and make it safe," Blake said.

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