Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday released safety guidelines for in-person graduation ceremonies this spring.
The restrictions are dependent on the sizes of the ceremonies. They include capacity restrictions and, in some cases, a need for either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
"The graduation ceremonies, we think are important, and we hope schools have graduation ceremonies. We just want them safe and we want them smart," Cuomo said.
Starting May 1, large-scale ceremonies with 500 or more people at outdoor venues will be limited to 20% capacity. For medium-sized events with 201 to 500 people at outdoor venues, capacity will be limited to 33%. All attendees at events of these sizes will be required to either show proof of either a recent negative COVID-19 test or vaccination.
For small-scale outdoor ceremonies (up to 200 people), 50% capacity will be allowed, and proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination record is optional.
For large-scale indoor events with over 150 people, venues can operate at 10% capacity. Indoor ceremonies of a medium scale, with 100 to 150 people, can operate at 33% capacity. Attendees of events of these sizes must show proof of either a recent negative COVID-19 test or vaccination.
Small-scale indoor ceremonies with up to 100 people can operate at 50% capacity, and a negative test result or vaccination record is optional.
“We continue to encourage virtual drive-in or individual ceremonies. They are still the safest option for students and families. But we deserve a break, and students deserve their day for graduation, and families deserve a little good news,” Cuomo said.
For large- and medium-scale ceremonies, schools and colleges will need to notify their local health department.
At all ceremonies, face masks must be worn, social distancing guidelines must be followed, and venues must complete a health screening for all participants and document information for contact tracing.
This guidance comes a few hours after the governor announced that the state would send vaccines directly to college campuses in an effort to vaccinate young people as the virus spread is growing in 18 to 24 year olds.