New Jersey

Possible COVID Exposure at Parties Leads NJ High School to Postpone In-Person Graduation

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Montclair High School's in-person graduation ceremony scheduled for Thursday has been postponed due to possible COVID-19 exposure at graduation parties leading up to the big day.

In a letter to families, students and staff, the Superintendent of Montclair Schools, Jonathan Ponds, says in part: "Out of an abundance of caution, it is with enormous regret that I must announce the postponement of the in-person graduation celebration scheduled for this Thursday, July 9. This decision was made with the well-being of the Montclair community in mind, and in consultation and collaboration with the local health department, the Essex County Superintendent of Schools and the school physician. We were notified yesterday that there was possible exposure to COVID-19 at several graduation celebration parties."

Ponds went on to say that the district plans to reschedule the ceremony for a later date "provided circumstances permit us to hold an in-person graduation." The new date will be announced toward the end of the week.

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In his letter, Ponds not only congratulates the Montclair High School Class of 2020, but also commended graduates on "their resilience and dedication."

"As the incoming Superintendent of Schools, I am aware of the challenges facing this particulat class," Ponds said. "These students completed their studies, went on to earn their diplomas and escelled in all areas, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the tensions surrounding race in our country and a stair collapse in their building the year prior. These students are to be commended for their resilience and dedication."

Schools across New Jersey have started holding in-person graduations starting Monday. However, the ceremonies must be held outside and follow strict social distancing and other safety measures, including attendees must wear masks and schools must limit the number of attendees to 500.

Both New York and New Jersey are experiencing slipping citizen compliance when it comes to mask-wearing and social distancing, officials from both states say. That combined with the out-of-state travel factor has only intensified the risk of spreading the virus.

NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.
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