The group includes mayors of 22 different towns in New Jersey.
In spring of 2021 we saw all kinds of alternatives to the “normal” graduation ceremony: drive-bys at NASCAR tracks, socially distanced walk-throughs in front of High Schools, or just graduation ceremonies totally cancelled – no cap, no gown. All because of public safety wouldn’t allow the gatherings to happen… And people were, rightly, disappointed about the situation…
This mayors group calls itself, “Mayors for Main Street” and they’re hoping that Governor Murphy eliminates the outdoor gathering restrictions that will likely disallow student graduation ceremonies.
The specific regulation is the limit of “200 people on outdoor gatherings”. They point to the state’s current COVID regulations that say that “there is no limit for outdoor gatherings such as weddings, funerals, memorial services, religious or political gatherings” and they want the same thing for graduations.
From Hillsborough Mayor Shawn Lipani: “Gatherings should follow a consistent protocol. If there can be larger gatherings for both indoor and outdoor events, including church services, weddings and political events, it only stands to reason that graduation ceremonies should also fall under this same umbrella.”
And Washington Township Mayor Matthew Murello adds, “It’s time for the Governor to permit our schools to hold outdoor graduations this Spring. Schools are planning now and we cannot wait any longer for action from the State.”
Yesterday (April 21st) Governor Murphy told WPIX that next week the state will announce additional COVID restrictions will be lifted but he wasn’t specific about what restrictions could be axed. On April 16th he extended the public health emergency.
“We had a long meeting on this last night,” he said. “I continue to think we will take incremental steps. That has worked well for us.”
“We’re gonna definitely continue to open up, there’s no question about it.”
OUR TAKE: Current regulations limit outdoor gatherings not named specifically in the guideline to 200 people but also call for wearing facemasks when social distancing isn’t possible. So, maybe the solution is to add graduation ceremonies to the list of unlimited gatherings but also require face coverings to protect people from their graduation ceremony turning into a COVID spreading event…