The Assembly Minority Conference, now led by Minority Leader William Barclay (R – Fulton), today sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for him to allow high schools across the state to host socially distanced graduation ceremonies to celebrate the accomplishments of New York’s students.
A copy of the letter is available here.
The letter urges the governor’s office to consider the many benefits of allowing these traditional ceremonies while maintaining proper social-distancing protocols. Although the governor opened the door to drive-through graduation events, the Minority Conference believes such restrictive logistics would greatly diminish what should be a milestone for young people across the state. It is important to note students going directly into the workforce or military service may never have a chance to walk the stage, and allowing them to do so this summer would mean a lot to families who may not otherwise be able to have that experience.
“The impact of COVID-19 on New York’s students has been especially jarring, as valuable classroom time disappeared, social routines were disrupted and students were forced to miss out on many benefits of student life. Let’s give them back this one, important event and try to fill some of the void left by this terrible pandemic,” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay. “We believe with proper planning and execution, these events could safely be hosted in the near future and provide some much-needed normalcy in these trying times.”
The Assembly Minority’s letter points out traditional graduation ceremonies would provide a sense of closure for students who were so abruptly removed from their regular academic experiences, and have worked tirelessly to achieve educational excellence.
“This has been an extremely trying year for New York students. Now that many regions are seeing substantial drops in COVID-19 cases, it is time not just for reopening the economy, but for repairing the building blocks of our communities. I can think of no better place to do that than in our schools,” said Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, the Assembly Minority Ranker on Education. “Graduating high school is a tremendous accomplishment, and the Class of 2020 and their families deserve to celebrate those accomplishments.”