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City graduation ceremonies will be a hodgepodge of in-person, virtual and student-only events this year due to COVID-19 — leaving some angry kids and parents stuck at home for the big day.
Citing easing coronavirus conditions, frustrated families are demanding that stubborn principals scrap their Zoom ceremonies in favor of in-person festivities.
“This has been a tough year,” said PS 87 parent Todd Rosenbluh, who has been pressing administrators at the Upper West Side school to host an in-person event. “But now kids are interacting a lot more, parents are interacting a lot more. We want to end the year as a community to celebrate everything we’ve accomplished.”
The school initially argued that holding an in-person graduation would not be fair to kids who are enrolled in the remote-only format and balked at the idea.
But Rosenbluh countered that those students — who comprise 30 percent of PS 87’s enrollment — would be able to tune in remotely.
“It seems reasonable to think that there could be a format for people who are uncomfortable with attending,” he said.
Each city school can decide how to handle the occasion this year, with some administrators allowing in-person ceremonies and others opting for Zoom-only coronations.
Some principals are organizing in-person celebrations but only allowing children to attend. Others are limiting their events to outdoor gatherings or staggering them by cohort to limit crowds.
Administrators at PS 303 in Queens pushed hard for an in-person ceremony with teachers organizing a bake sale to help fund it.
But parents without any in-person offering at all are taking to Facebook to vent their frustration.
“I just don’t understand why it can’t be one class at a time outside,” said a mom at PS 175 in Queens.
Another parent said her school’s cyber-only event was “outrageous.”
Families at PS 261 in Brooklyn opted to fund and coordinate their own ceremony after administrators vetoed an in-person program for 5th graders.
Others said they were frustrated by the inconsistency between schools and the ability of principals to unilaterally decide on their graduation offerings.
“We’re done bending over at this point,” said another parent. “There is absolutely no reason to not have an in-person graduation this year — especially after everything these schools have been through.”
The Department of Education said that remote students are allowed to attend any in-person ceremonies.
“As always, schools are creating their own exciting, unique celebrations that meet the needs of their students and families,” said spokesman Nathaniel Styer. “Health and safety come first and schools are following all appropriate health and safety guidelines for outdoor, or if needed, indoor ceremonies.”
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