Dear Minisink Valley Class of 2021 families:
We’re writing to share the plans for the Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony.
First, we want to stress we know everyone wishes to have a single ceremony on our football field, as has been past tradition. The district’s Board of Education, Central Office and high school administration truly feel this way, too.
However, due to the most recent COVID-19 restrictions for schools, put in place by the New York State (NYSDOH) and the Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH), a single ceremony based on the number of graduates, guests and required staff, is not possible on our campus without the required PCR testing, or antigen testing, or proof of vaccination for everyone in attendance.
We again ask you to understand that the mandates and requirements that school districts must follow are extremely different and more restrictive than other industry sectors. We understand the inequity, but we have no choice but to adhere to these mandates and requirements.
In the interim, we continue to actively work with our area’s state officials to assertively lobby for changes in mandates to allow larger numbers of people at school district events without the need for testing verification and to eliminate other restrictive guidelines, bringing us on par with other industry sectors. If we receive revised guidance that would allow us to hold a more traditional ceremony without these required tests or proof of vaccination, we will reach out to you immediately.
Because of this, and after very careful thought and review of the limited options available to us, the Class of 2021 Commencement will be broken into two ceremonies on the football field.
Here’s the details:
- Two ceremonies on Friday, June 25 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Each ceremony will include approximately 155 students.
- Each student will be permitted to invite two guests. Tickets will be required and must be picked up in advance. The number of guests allotted for each student will only be changed accordingly if guidelines permit. Please note: On June 25, the campus will only be open to graduates, their two guests and the limited faculty, administrators and staff needed to run the commencement ceremony.
- Because we are holding two ceremonies with smaller numbers of people, there will be no need to provide proof of vaccination, antigen test results or negative COVID-19 test results. However, strict adherence to social distancing rules and mask wearing is required, in addition to completing a COVID-19 health screening in advance of the ceremonies, to be in compliance with NYSDOH and OCDOH mandates.
- Ceremonies will be live-streamed for family and friends to view remotely. More details will follow.
- We realize the importance of students wanting to graduate alongside their friends and classmates. Next week, we will send out a link to graduates, via their school email accounts, where they can choose which session they want to attend. Now is the time to have a family conversation about your preferred time, but keep in mind times will be on a first come, first serve basis. We will try our best to accommodate requests, however due to the limited number of students who can attend each session, this is not guaranteed.
We know this information is being shared a few days later than we initially indicated. This is because we’ve been promised updated guidance from the New York State Department of Health. But, regrettably, this has not happened. However, we still remain hopeful that in the coming days, we may have updated information to share.
Thank you for your continued patience and grace. Our intent is to make the Class of 2021’s Commencement Ceremony a meaningful and memorable one, particularly because this has been such a difficult year.
We’ll provide additional details on ticket pick-up, picking a ceremony time and commencement live streaming in the coming days.
Brian C. Monahan