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O'Mara: Let local input set ceremony size ADVERTISEMENT

O'Mara: Let local input set ceremony size

ELMIRA--State Senator Tom O'Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) continues to join a chorus of voices from across the Southern Tier region calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to revise the state-mandated size limit for in-person high school graduation ceremonies.
In early June, the governor issued an executive order limiting in-person graduation ceremonies to no more than a total of 150 attendees.
O'Mara and other Southern Tier leaders stress this state-mandated restriction leaves many school districts unable to conduct a collective gathering for their entire graduating school community.
O'Mara said, "I think that's wrong. I believe we can and should trust school district administrators and regional officials to conduct safe graduation ceremonies. In my view, given all of the recent civil protest and unrest, these traditional high school graduation ceremonies for our young people to celebrate community, family, unity, achievement, and hope for the future are extremely meaningful and necessary this year. I continue to urge Gov. Cuomo to recognize their overriding value at this time and place in New York State."
In a letter Monday, June 15 to the Horseheads Central School District community, Superintendent Tom Douglas wrote, "Our senior class is over 300 students. In order to meet that requirement and include parents and personnel to help us adhere to safety guidelines and run graduation, we would need several ceremonies. To date (Governor Cuomo) has not changed this arbitrary number [it's] not based on fact or data. He has allowed gatherings for other events and activities such as beaches and big box stores at 25 percent of the location's capacity. We believe we can hold graduation safely using this guideline, but unless and until the governor changes his 150 limit, we are unable to hold one in-person graduation ceremony for this very special Class of 2020. Urge (Gov. Cuomo) to increase the number of attendees at in-person graduation ceremonies using the same percentage limits being used for other gatherings at beaches, big box stores (Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot) and grocery stores: 25 percent or more of the actual venue's capacity. If this reasonable request were granted, almost all districts in the state could hold one graduation ceremony that includes all graduates, two parents/guests, and the necessary staff on their football fields and meet social distancing requirements."
Last Friday, county executives and county managers from across the Southern Tier region - including Schuyler County Administrator Timothy O'Hearn, Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss, and Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler - also wrote to Cuomo calling on the governor to revise the guidelines.
O'Mara and other Southern Tier leaders urge area residents who support their effort to call the governor's office at 518-474-8390 or send an online message through the following web page: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form.





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