School districts in Metuchen and Edison will end the school year with virtual pomp and circumstance for the Class of 2020. In-person graduations are still up in the air.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced in-person graduations would be allowed after July 6. He lifted the state’s stay-at-home order on June 9, which went into effect on March 21, and also increased limits on the number of people who can gather indoors from 10 to 50 people or 25% of a building’s capacity and 25 to 100 people outdoors. The numbers of people allowed to gather outdoors will increase to 250 people on June 22 and 500 people on July 3.
Metuchen Schools Superintendent Vincent Caputo said students overwhelmingly told school officials they did not want mini-ceremonies. He said with the changes on outdoor gatherings, it changes what they can do to celebrate the Class of 2020.
Caputo said at a Board of Education meeting on June 9, they will go through the process and if they receive approval from the state and local officials to hold a graduation in July, they will share the information with the students and their families.
The last day of classes for the Metuchen School District is on June 19. The graduation would normally be held on the football field the evening of the last day of school. A professional virtual graduation will takes its place.
Caputo said the district will hold a virtual senior awards program on June 15. He acknowledged the community in supporting the scholarships and grants for the students during the challenging times of the pandemic.
Seniors and their families can make an appointment the week of June 15 and have a walk up diploma session and get a professional photograph taken with the 2020 on the scoreboard as the background.
In Edison, the district will hold virtual graduations for Edison High School (EHS) and John P. Stevens High School on June 16. Graduations for the high schools normally have been held back to back at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway.
The high schools held virtual senior awards, which are on YouTube.
The Edison community is asked to honk car horns, bang pots and pans and yell congratulatory remarks in support of the graduating seniors at 2:30 p.m. on June 16.
Edison township police and fire departments will participate in the community-wide event by blaring their sirens and flashing their lights at the same time to help make it a true community-wide event.
At 4 p.m., the virtual graduation ceremonies for the high schools will air on YouTube.
In-person graduations are expected in Edison for the high schools on their respective football fields as the state expands outdoor gatherings later in the summer. In April, the parents of Edison High School seniors had started a change.org petition “Save EHS Class of 2020 Graduation!!” to hold an in-person graduation when allowed, which garnered more than a thousand of signatures.