Don’t put away those cap and gowns just yet. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that graduation ceremonies will be allowed after all.
Commencements, which can begin starting June 26, must be held outdoors with proper social distancing, Cuomo said Sunday during his daily COVID-19 briefing. Only up to 150 people will be allowed to attend the ceremonies.
Earlier last week, Cuomo had said schools would be permitted to hold drive-in and drive-thru graduation ceremonies. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday he worked with the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association to develop a template for safe, socially-distanced graduations, and would submit the protocols to the state for review.
The decision is subject to any significant changes with the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“We have a little time to see between now and then,” Cuomo said of the nearly three weeks until ceremonies can be held.
While the novel coronavirus numbers continue to decline, state officials are concerned about the large groups that have been protesting, and whether that will help spread the virus, particularly in New York City, which is just beginning Phase 1 under New York Forward reopening plan.
Fifteen new COVID-19 testing sites across New York City are opening strictly for people who attended protests. The governor said protestors should assume they have been exposed to COVID-19 and get a test.
“That is one variable in this equation that we are not sure of,” Cuomo said. “We don’t know what the effect of these protests are and we’re concerned about it.”