TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The spread of coronavirus has canceled in-person graduations across the Tri-State and many schools are racing to come up with ways to safely celebrate seniors.
“Wave parades” have suddenly become the way to celebrate in the age of COVID-19 for birthdays and other occasions. The parades are often led by police and other first responders. Some schools were planning on using wave parades to celebrate seniors, but New Jersey State Police rained on the students’ parades.
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In a letter to schools Saturday, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said all parades that invite people to gather at a certain location violate the state’s coronavirus lockdown and should be cancelled.
The news was devastating for kids in Hightstown, because students in the East Windsor Regional School District were set to hold wave parades on Saturday. Teachers were also set to drive past students’ houses and say goodbye to them before the summer.
“They don’t understand and that’s the tough part,” said parent Stacy Blake in an interview with CBS2’s Nick Caloway. “They understand that their teachers were coming to wave and say hi in a car and that got taken away from them.”
Caloway asked Col. Callahan about the directive and he clarified his previous statement.
“So first off we would never and we could not prevent vehicles driving by,” said Col. Callahan. “Let’s say it’s a senior in his or her on their front porch with their parents, those vehicles can can go by. But, we are discouraging and the intent of my letter to the Department of Education and public and non-public schools was directing students to gather on the front lawn of a school at a football stadium, or at a town hall because what you’re doing is inviting them to gather which is in violation of the executive order.”
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Wave parades that do not involve students gathering all at one location are allowed, and this includes graduations and even smaller events like birthdays. The caravan planned for the East Windsor Regional School District called for teachers and staff to drive past students’ houses, while families remain in their own front yards. That is in compliance with the law, but there’s a problem.
That event and ones like it across the state were cancelled after the directive was issues to schools. The colonel told CBS2 that he hopes his comments Monday clarify his directive.