VINELAND, N.J. (CBS) — Hoping to still give students their moment in the sun, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy set a date when in-person graduation ceremonies can begin. CBS3 spoke with one superintendent who, first and foremost, wants to make sure students are safe.
“You will have your opportunity to join with your classmates and families to celebrate your graduation,” Murphy said.
It was the news many 2020 graduates were hoping for, but it may be coming a little too late.
Murphy’s announcement is being met with some reluctance, at least from the Vineland Public School District.
“I think it’s wonderful if we could actually have an in-person graduation, for the students and the parents. I would very much like to do that, however, in my particular situation, I’m very concerned,” Vineland Public Schools Superintendent Mary Gruccio said.
Gruccio says there is usually about 4,000 to 5,000 people who attend the Vineland High School graduation. The school district would have to have multiple graduations to accommodate all of the graduates, plus two guests.
“I’m also worried because the military, any students who are going into the military, will be gone by July and they wouldn’t be able to participate,” Gruccio said.
Vineland Public Schools already has plans in place for a virtual graduation.
Another problem, teacher contracts are up on June 30 and aren’t compensated again until the next school year.
“It’s not in the budget right now. We’d have to see what we can eliminate, if we had to do that. It does take a lot of work and it’s three days at least of practicing when you have that many students,” Gruccio said.
It’s a big decision superintendents across the Garden State will be making.
“I understand what they want and why they want it. I still feel very responsible for their health and safety so I’m a little concerned until we get some more guidance,” Gruccio said.
The Vineland Public Schools superintendent says they’re awaiting guidelines from Murphy for large school districts. Those are expected to come Wednesday.