MONTVILLE, NJ – Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar announced May 9 that Montville Township High School’s senior class would indeed be holding their June 23 graduation ceremony solely online, as the state department of education had communicated the day before that because of the closure of schools, only virtual graduation ceremonies can be planned.

Rovtar said that she received communication from Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, the State Director of Emergency Management which stated, in part:

“In light of the components of Executive Order No. 107 [the stay-at-home order], and in the interest of health and safety of the public, in-person ceremonies, including graduations, all parades, including ‘wave parades,’ that invite people to gather at a certain location, proms and other similar celebrations violate the enumerated conditions of the order, and should therefore be cancelled or postponed until such time as these restrictions are lifted. Until such time, virtual celebrations and other remote forms of recognition should take the place of any in-person or public ceremonies.”

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Rovtar and MTHS Principal Douglas Sanford had previously communicated to parents that a virtual graduation was being planned in case any type of in-person graduation were to be prohibited, and students had been invited to submit two photos and two short videos to the school principals for consideration to be included in the graduation video being assembled by an outside contractor.

“If the Executive Orders currently in place are rescinded or modified in a way that would permit the district to provide an in-person graduation ceremony, we are certainly prepared to do so,” Rovtar wrote to parents and students in her email. “At the present time, we intend to comply with the instructions and directives that have been provided by the authorities.”

Sanford was dismayed by the announcement but encouraged students to meet the extended deadline for submitting to the graduation video.

“Unfortunately right now it’s not great news,” Sanford said to students and parents in a video recording. “[But by uploading their videos and pictures,] students have the opportunity to put their stamp on the virtual graduation ceremony. This doesn’t change what we as a district are planning. We are continuing to plan for a virtual graduation ceremony. We continue to develop other plans in case restrictions do change either before June 23 or after June 23. Plans are still being developed – we are ready for different scenarios.”

To see the state department of education letter, click here.

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