Why are New York’s Covid rules stricter for high school graduates than for other big events?

New York State school districts are struggling with more restrictive rules for debuts than for other public events. Parents and school officials wonder why.

The state order for graduation ceremonies requires school officials to follow Covid spacing and testing rules that are not imposed on professional sports and concerts. The rules were set in April, well before the recent relaxation, especially for outdoor events. The state did not update its order.

As a result, schools – especially large high schools – have planned mostly outdoor events with old social distancing requirements, few guests, and heavy rules to prevent those who don’t have a vaccination or a test. Clean Covid.

According to New York rules, high school graduation guests must provide proof of vaccination or a clean Covid test within 72 hours. Masks, social distancing, temperature checks, contact tracing information, and door-to-door wellness exams are needed.

But at a New York Yankees game on Thursday, vaccinated fans sat together without distance or masks, and the unvaccinated attended without proof of a negative Covid test.

High schools cannot do this for outdoor diplomas. Everyone must wear a mask and a separate space (vaccinated or not).

If you are not vaccinated or if you do not have your own Covid test, you cannot attend a graduation ceremony in a large high school in New York.

Indoors, the next New York Knicks games can now have 15,000 fans. Vaccinated fans can sit together without masks or social distancing. Again, high school graduates cannot do this. When starting indoors, guests should space out and wear masks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo encourages fans to attend sporting events, saying they’re playing the game, while state encourages schools to lead virtual degrees where possible.

New York state officials can’t or won’t explain it. In response to questions from Syracuse.com, the state health department sent a copy of the guidelines but did not respond to questions. The governor’s office and the state’s education department referred matters to the state health.

It’s unclear why the rules are so strict for tick marks and haven’t been updated with all of the other changes over the past month.

This means a logistical problem for large school districts. A school bypasses all the red tape by having a diploma with only the elders and no families. Afterwards and throughout the day, families can attend a graduation ceremony at set times to take photos.

The superintendents are baffled by the contrast.

“The messages are mixed,” said Fayetteville-Manlius Superintendent Craig Tice. “It’s confusing for the public because there is one set of rules for school events and another set of rules for other events. We would like it to be uniform.

School officials, parents and the elderly are hoping the rules will change, but time is running out.

For now, most large high schools are forced to hold outdoor events because the venues are larger and the state allows higher capacity outdoors. Schools require proof of Covid vaccination or a negative Covid test within 72 hours. There is a limit of three or four guests.

Small high schools may not face the same issues because the rules are different for small gatherings. But many still require clean Covid tests or vaccinations.

“There is no justification,” said Robert Lowry, deputy principal of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “It’s frustrating and it’s not the school’s fault. The rules make it very difficult to hold these events. “

Lowry said they were told there were discussions about changing the guidelines, but nothing has been decided yet.

The Liverpool school district has chosen not to have to be vaccinated.

Instead, the elderly at Liverpool High School will receive an in-person graduation ceremony, but their parents and grandparents will have to watch it on video. This school will host a graduation ceremony later today, which eight family members can attend without having to prove they are vaccinated.

They can come at a set time, take pictures from a set location, and watch their child receive the diploma.

“While we can hold a traditional graduation ceremony, we will need to significantly limit the number of guests per graduate and require proof of vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test result, or proof of COVID-19. previous positive. result in the last 90 days for each of our graduates and their guests, ” an email from the school said to parents.

Cicero-North Syracuse High School will host a traditional debut ceremony in its outdoor stadium, but seniors and their four authorized guests must follow many steps. They must:

  • Provide the names of each graduate’s guests by this week.
  • Submit proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test for each guest.
  • Provide photo ID and contact tracking information for guests.
  • Each guest must individually collect a master key bracelet in the days leading up to graduation, not at the door. This guest must wear the bracelet at graduation.
  • At the event, submit to a temperature check and complete a health screening form.
  • Once inside the stadium, wear a mask.

The Syracuse City School District, which holds five separate graduation ceremonies at the NBT stadium, will also require testing or proof of vaccination, a spokesperson said. Baldwinsville and Fayetteville-Manlius will be staying away in their stadiums and will need vaccines or tests.

West Genesee graduates at the State Fairgrounds Center of Progress Building, with each student allowed three guests. Again, a vaccination trial and negative tests are required.

Liverpool officials said they chose their path because they had 600 senior graduates. Although Covid-19 restrictions have eased, there isn’t a place big enough for the entire graduating class and a significant number of guests, officials said.

With 600 seniors and four guests plus staff, that’s over 2,500 people. Complicating these are the rules for showing proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result.

Liverpool had until recently hoped to use the state fairgrounds exhibition center, but the state has said it needs space for vaccination clinics.

State rules force superintendents to make the decisions when they follow the rules, Lowry said. They want to offer seniors an in-person graduation this year, after last year’s pandemic wiped them out.

“We really can’t explain why this is so,” he said. “It makes it really risky for schools trying to organize these events.”

Elizabeth Doran covers education, suburban government and development, breaking news and more. Do you have a tip, a comment or a story idea? Contact her anytime at 315-470-3012 or by email [email protected]

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