South Seneca Central School

South Seneca Central School. 

South Seneca Central School District Superintendent Steve Zielinski said his team is considering all options, as it pertains to their high school graduation ceremony.

At this point, an in-person ceremony is still slated for Saturday June 27, and while that might come as a surprise to some, Zielinski said the district is prepared to maintain all guidance on gatherings.

"We believe we can spread out each graduate, and seat families well distanced from other families in our bleachers," Zielinksi said this week in an update. "The bleachers seat 1,200, and we have 55 grads, so even if we allowed four family members per graduate, we'd have 220 people in a 1,200-capacity set of bleachers."

They would hover around 25-capacity at that mark. That said, they will be working closely with public health officials to ensure overall safety of those in attendance.

Zielinski said that with the sound system at the track, which is powerful enough to ensure that everyone can hear what is happening, the infrastructure is in place to hold it.

School districts around the region are weighing outdoor ceremonies, if they do not typically hold graduation outdoors. For South Seneca, it is not a problem since they typically hold graduation outdoors on the track.

"We are well aware that if we were planning for this upcoming Saturday, it would be a no-go because of the ban on gatherings. With the gradual re-opening of the county in progress, we're proceeding with the hope that it's still possible to do this, considering our small size," Zielinksi added. The concession that graduation could not happen this weekend – if they were set to hold the ceremony then – is proof of the uncertainty that exists around any medium or large gathering.

However, with a small class size and relatively small community, it is still possible.

He said “Plan B” includes postponing to July or August. A third option, or “Plan C” as he called it, would involve going remote, or holding a “virtual” graduation. It is unclear at this point what that might look like, or how the logistics would unfold.

"We've received some kind offers for alternate venues," Zielinski added. "But if we can't do the track, we probably can't do an alternate spot either."

Officials said the bottom line is that everything is being taken “day by day.” With so much uncertainty moving forward, making predictions about what will, or will not be legally permitted a month, or even a week from present day is a challenge. One that leaders at South Seneca are wrestling with each day.

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