ALBANY — Families of graduating high school seniors received an early gift when the state Department of Health relaxed COVID-related guidelines last week pertaining to upcoming commencement celebrations.
Surrounding school districts sent messages to their respective families with news of several changes to the virus-mitigation rules that stunted audience sizes. Schools hosting their graduations at the Times Union Center were allowed to expand their audience on account that it would not need to enforce social distancing.
But, there still will be some pandemic-related rules to follow.
Social distancing is no longer required in the arena. Face masks for individuals who are vaccinated are optional, but unvaccinated individuals are still required to wear a mask.
The health department’s guidance for “large-scale” venues requires participants and attendees to demonstrate one of three forms of proof: A negative COVID-19 test, vaccination or proof of recovery from COVID-19.
The final vaccination shot must have been at least 14 days prior to the start of the event. Visitors can also show proof of results from a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR test, within 72 hours prior to the event or a negative rapid test taken within six hours prior to the event. And those who have fully recovered from a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last three months must show the positive test result accompanied with proof of completed order of isolation within the last 90 days.
A letter from Ravena Coeymans Selkirk High School Principal Lisa Patierne informed families that the school had more than 500 rapid COVID tests at the ready. The school is to host a drive-through testing clinic for students and their families on graduation day, Saturday June 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Participants are required to register ahead of time.