TRENTON, N.J. – With graduation season only a few weeks away, the Waldwick Board of Education took matters into its own hands Monday night when it approved a measure to file litigation for in-person graduation ceremony if Gov. Phil Murphy doesn’t make a decision regarding in-person graduations by June 1.
The board is not alone in their fight to allow students to have an in-person graduation ceremony. Assemblyman Jay Webber has introduced a resolution (AR162) urging Murphy to allow high school graduation ceremonies. The resolution has bipartisan support and sponsorship with 15 Assembly members sponsoring the measure.
“Tens of thousands of New Jerseysans have joined together to say ‘Let our seniors walk, governor’” stated Webber (R-Morris). “If we trust 18-year-olds to drive, vote, and fight in wars, we can trust them to safely celebrate their high school graduations while adhering to recommended safety guidelines. Seniors know, as much as anyone, that the virus has real consequences and that social distancing is important. They understand their graduation ceremonies must be modified.”
Assemblymen Christopher DePhillips and Kevin Rooney, two of the resolution’s sponsors, have offered their support to the board and are calling on Murphy to allow in-person graduations to take place.
“I commend the Waldwick board of education for standing up for the rights of their students because they understand parents and students have worked years to earn the right to take part in this rite of passage,” stated Rooney (R-Bergen). “Also, it has come to my attention some graduations are being held in welcoming locations out of state. While this is a nice gesture, we need to allow our graduates to celebrate in the state where they attended school.”
“We should do everything in our power to make sure no student misses this milestone,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “Students have had events such as their Senior proms and Senior trips stolen from them by the coronavirus pandemic and if we have a way to bring back some normalcy to their lives with allowing in-person graduation, then we should do it.“
Public support for modified commencement ceremonies is growing. One online petition to allow graduation ceremonies has already surpassed 50,000 signatures.