PATERSON, NJ - Paterson Public Schools’ graduation seniors will have the opportunity to participate in two graduation ceremonies under a plan that will be put forward to the Board of Education Eileen Shafer said Thursday.

The announcement came during a press conference called by Mayor Andre Sayegh to announce the formation of the COVID-19 Task Force which is bringing together government, academic, business, religious, and non-profit leaders from across Paterson to develop “Paterson’s path forward,” and make “real time decisions.”

On Wednesday Governor Phil Murphy declared that schools would be able to hold graduation ceremonies beginning on July 6, a decision that Shafer indicated she believed was the right one. “The Class of 2020 has gone through a lot,” Shafer said, echoing comments she shared with TAPinto Paterson earlier this month when she offered her belief that this year’s crop of graduates are “a class of remarkably resilient young people who managed to complete their high school education during one of the most difficult times the world has ever seen.”

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Under the District’s draft plan, students will be able to participate in a virtual graduation ceremony on June 19. Following this, ceremonies will be held on multiple days for each of the graduating classes, not starting before July 6, at Bauerle Field. These ceremonies, Shafer said, will restrict attendance to two guests per graduate who will be pre-registered, include markings so guests know where to sit, and remain socially distant, and offer processions wherein graduates both enter and leave the stadium together, while also maintaining their distance, to reduce crowding.

Asked whether or not she believed Paterson public school students will be able to return to classes as normal in September Shafer said “absolutely not,” before outlining a series of concerns that must be overcome, including overcrowding.

There are “all kinds” of models the District, under the direction of the School Reopening Task Force, is considering, Shafer said, including split sessions, all being designed with the overall goal of providing learning in “a safe environment for everyone.”

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