TRENTON, N.J. – A group of Republican lawmakers are pointing out that Gov. Phil Murphy has made a mess of high school graduations and that the problems for students, parents and schools continue despite an Assembly bill addressing an insurance problem.
“Governor Murphy has made a mess of graduations, needlessly costing our kids, parents, and schools their rights and rites of passage,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris). “Smart and properly spaced in-person graduations can occur safely now with complete senior classes, and our students and schools should be celebrating these important once-in-a-lifetime milestones throughout the whole month of June.”
The Assembly Education Committee is taking up legislation Wednesday afternoon (A4227) that extends school districts’ insurance coverage for July and August for in-person graduations.
“Legislation extending insurance coverage to cover summer graduations should not be necessary at all and only proves just how wrong-headed the governor’s rulings have been,” continued Webber. “The governor couldn’t just let our kids walk without unfairly laying a minefield of confusion, contradiction, delay, and additional expense to get there.”
Webber called for amending the bill to permit statewide, responsible and socially distanced graduations immediately.
Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger added that there should be no problems to allow earlier graduations.
“The governor has already said that he anticipates being able to raise the outdoor gathering cap to two-hundred-fifty well before July sixth,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “While I appreciate the intent of the legislation so that school districts are able to have these graduations, there is no reason why we cannot have them all before June thirtieth.”
“Our school districts are capable of devising safe and logical outdoor ceremonies that comply with social distancing,” continued DiMaso. “In fact, many have made plans that we have sent over to the governor’s office. Not only is moving it to July micro-management, but it is causing an additional expense for towns and taxpayers.”
“There is no reason to further delay when graduation ceremonies occur. In fact, many districts have been planning how to conduct graduations safely for weeks now,” said Scharfenberger (R-Monmouth). “Lives cannot continue to be placed on hold for arbitrary data to dictate the differences between June and July events. Districts should be allowed to conduct ceremonies earlier if they see fit and are ready.”
Assemblymen Kevin Rooney and Christopher DePhillips said that students deserve to enjoy this important milestone.
“They have worked twelve years to get to this point. They missed senior prom. They missed their senior trip. Let them have the opportunity to walk across the stage and get their diploma,” said Kevin J. Rooney (R-Bergen). “Let them celebrate their achievement in front of their family and friends.”
“We should do everything in our power to make sure no student misses this milestone,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “Cancelling prior milestone events was necessary, but now it has become arbitrary. Allowing graduations will bring some normalcy back. As the governor said when he violated his own executive order, he didn’t see anyone not wearing a mask. There should be no concern about letting graduations happen.”