Reopen News: Oyster Bay demands governor ease graduation restrictions

OYSTER BAY, Long Island (WABC) -- One town on Long Island is demanding that Governor Andrew Cuomo ease restrictions for school graduation ceremonies as the coronavirus pandemic wanes.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and members of the Town Board joined with dozens of students, parents, elected officials and school board members Thursday to plead their case at a press conference at the Locust Valley High School Athletic Field at Centre Island Beach in Bayville.

They have formed a group called New Yorkers for Live Graduations that has over 2,400 followers on Facebook.

"We've flattened the curve, and we just want to be able to all walk together one last time and say our goodbyes and just have our final moment in the school," senior Ronnie Marchand said.

They argue that although school districts have the capability to offer a venue that provides a safe graduation ceremony within the social distancing guidelines, Cuomo has placed an arbitrary attendance cap of 150 people on graduation ceremonies.

Those restrictions, they say, will force some local school districts to host virtual graduations and even break up their senior classes while limiting families in celebrating this educational milestone.

The Town of Oyster Bay has offered its facilities, equipment and resources to local schools to assist in graduation ceremonies that they say keep classes together while providing for greater attendance and ensuring the health, safety and welfare of attendees.

Locust Valley High School has a graduating class of 179, relatively small, but still, with families, way beyond the governor's current cap.

"If everyone could be included together, it would probably be more memorable for everyone," senior Lauren Spampinato said.

In these unprecedented times, there have been more non-traditional approaches in many other communities, such as parades and virtual ceremonies. But just as people can now flock to Long Island's beaches, community leaders are pushing harder to give these seniors a badly needed break.

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