BASKING RIDGE, NJ -- A group of parents of Ridge High School seniors are circulating a petition to the New Jersey Department of Education requesting permission to hold an in-person graduation ceremony next month while adhering to current social distancing guidelines in effect because of the coronavirus.

The current plan is for Ridge to hold a "virtual" graduation.

Donna Giordano and four other parents say in their petition, "Our football field at RHS provides more than enough space for our children to space themselves 6-10 feet apart and provide safe measures for the students to receive their diplomas."

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Gov. Phil Murphy last week announced that all schools in New Jersey would be closed for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. Graduation week is still six weeks away, and the rate of new cases of COVID-19 has been dropping steadily for the last three weeks. 

"These kids have missed out on the last 3 months of their senior year, there is no reason why they can't socially distance and have their graduation," the petition reads. "Beaches will be open in most towns where they will be able to socially distance. Golf courses and large chain stores are also open with more people than our graduating class! Please let them have a SAFE SOCIALLY DISTANCED GRADUATION!  Please sign this petition to Governor Murphy!"

At his daily press briefing on Monday, Murphy said, "Parents aren't bashful. We have heard from seniors themselves. For the moment, we can't congregate."

It stinks. There's no other way to put it. and we feel awful," Gov. Murphy said. "But we also got to make sure we don't, by celebrating this year, that we lose somebody. And we can't do that, particularly in the intergenerational spread of this virus."

The full petition can be found here