NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) — Legislators, parents and students in New Jersey are calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to provide guidance for graduation ceremonies as more restrictions in the state are lifted.

Ceremonies were canceled last year. But as CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, there’s excitement for this year’s commencement.

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“It’s just hard to not be able to connect with friends for one last year,” said Paige Eckard, a senior at Westfield High School.

Eckard is hoping to receive her diploma alongside her fellow classmates, but the state has yet to release guidance for school districts.

“Graduations are a rite of passage, especially high school,” said State Sen. Kristin Corrado, a Republican, who is pushing the governor to provide a plan.

Last year, notice was given in May, leaving some districts to cancel graduation all together. Outdoor capacity was limited and parents were not included.


“We’d also ask that the Department of Education give latitude to the school districts because they’re different. Some are bigger than others,” Corrado said.

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Parents told CBS2 they want to know sooner rather than later so they can plan something with family to celebrate the achievement.

“It is frustrating. [Paige] is my first born, as well. This is a big year for us and for her,” said Erin Eckard.

Gov. Murphy is anticipating, “something that comes close to a normal graduation. But we’re not there yet,” he said.


“We want to give students as normal of a spring as possible,” said Westfield High School Principal Mary Asfendis. “It’s not just graduation. It’s proms, it’s a lot of senior activities.”

For now, districts are left making plans under current restrictions (outdoor gatherings are limited to 150 people) and are making backup plans in case things change as more people are vaccinated.

If the CDC changes social distancing guidelines from 6 feet to 3 feet, there’s a greater chance parents and other family members would be able to attend graduations.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team