State education officials announced Wednesday that high school graduations may begin again, with graduates able to sit together, starting in July.
State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona announced that outdoor, in-person graduations will be allowed for up to 150 students with proper precautions in place on or after July 6 if current COVID-19 trends continue. Speaking at a press conference at Farmington High School, Cardona said current plans for socially distant graduation ceremonies may still be the best option in many districts.
Farmington is one of the districts that plans to go ahead with an alternative graduation ceremony, according to Farmington Superintendent Kathleen Greider. Farmington High School is planning a drive-in graduation in June at the Farmington Polo Grounds. Students will be allowed a one-passenger vehicle to attend the ceremony in an assigned spot.
Other districts are planning to wait until July, when a more traditional graduation ceremony can take place.
“Our graduates can be together on the field they have dreamed about since kindergarten,” said Mathew Conway, superintendent of Derby Schools. Conway said the senior class in Derby is 74 students and the district is planning graduation in July.
Positive trends continued Wednesday in Connecticut in the declining rate of COVID-19 infections. Gov. Ned Lamont said there were 112 reported new cases of COVID-19. This was the lowest infection rate the state has experienced in over two months, Lamont said. There were 17 more deaths associated with COVID-19 in the state — bringing the overall total to 3,989.
Public health data shows there have been 274,396 tests reported in Connecticut, while 5,824 new tests were reported Wednesday.
Lamont appreciates help from Washington
Lamont said given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy — including on undocumented immigrant families, that the CARES Act was the right thing to do.
“I get nervous as heck when I see the federal government push out that much money, that quickly,” Lamont said. He said more federal money will be needed in the future to recover from the pandemic, including $100 million dollars the state will spend on testing,
Connecticut Episcopal bishops speak out
While Lamont voiced appreciation for federal support on COVID-19 economic recovery, the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut joined the bishops of New England and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in speaking out against President Trump’s speech in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square on Monday.
The leader of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut said churches should not be used for political purposes.
“What we were trying to do fundamentally is to reclaim the image of the Episcopal Church and of churches anyway as fundamentally places of prayer and openness and God’s love rather than partisan politics,” said Ian Douglas, Bishop Diocesan of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut, in an interview Wednesday with Connecticut Public Radio.
“Churches and sacred symbols should not be used as political tools to foment division, alienation and violence,” the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut said in a statement Tuesday,
Restaurants call for indoor dining
More than 550 restaurant owners in Connecticut are urging Lamont to move up the date for indoor dining.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association had pushed for indoor dining to begin today, but Lamont told Connecticut Public Radio earlier this week that that was too soon.
The group of restaurant owners is now pushing for next Wednesday, three weeks after outdoor dining began and 86 days since the restaurant dining rooms were ordered to shut down.
At his daily press briefing, Lamont boasted that Connecticut was one of the first states in the region to have outdoor dining and said he would consider an earlier reopen date.
“I’m going to be a little cautious in terms of what the next round is. Right now as you know it’s planned for June 20th. Maybe we can accelerate that but it’s close quarters it means taking off the mask we have to be cautious there.”
New Haven reports numbers
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker Wednesday reported there have been 2,512 cases of residents with COVID-19 reported and 105 residents have died with the virus. The CVS rapid testing site in New Haven has not had as many people going to the site as was expected and is planned to close June 12, Elicker said.
Director of Public Health in New Haven Maritza Bond joined Elicker to caution those congrating to protest the death of George Floyd to get tested for COVID-19.
Ali Warshavsky contributed to this report.