Senator Ritchie urges NYDOH to ease high school graduation COVID-19 restrictions

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — A local lawmaker has called on the State Department of Health to ease COVID-19 restrictions for high school graduations in New York State.

On June 10, New York State Senator Patty Ritchie sent a letter to NYSDOH Commissioner Howard Zucker, requesting that the department “safely loosen restrictions” in regards to COVID-19 restrictions.

In her letter, Ritchie stated stated she has heard concerns in recent weeks from parents asking “why guidelines are more restrictive for graduation ceremonies than for other public events, like sporting events.”

Ritchie went on to say that since April, “[New York State] has continued to make strides against the pandemic with declining cases of COVID-19 and increased rates of vaccinations. Despite these achievements, guidelines for high school commencement ceremonies have not been updated.”

Senator Ritchie closed out the letter by asking the State Department of Health to revisit guidelines and loosen restrictions.

Full text from the letter to Commissioner Zucker can be read below:

Dear Dr. Zucker,

I write to you today regarding guidelines for high school commencement ceremonies in New York State.

In recent weeks, I have heard from a number of parents concerned as to why guidelines are more restrictive for graduation ceremonies than for other public events, like sporting events — including high school sports competitions — and concerts, among other activities.

As you know, these rules were established in April. Since that time, our state has continued to make strides against the pandemic with declining cases of COVID-19 and increased rates of vaccination. Despite these advancements, guidelines for high school commencement ceremonies have not been updated.

For more than a year, New York’s students and their families have face unprecedented challenges, Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, they deserve to celebrate their accomplishments through more traditional graduation ceremonies. As such, I respectfully request that the New York State Department of Health expeditiously revisit its guidelines for high school commencement ceremonies and safely loosen restrictions.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

Sincerely,

New York State Senator Patty Ritchie

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