DESE to announce high school graduation guidelines Saturday

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A majority of COVID-19 related restrictions will be lifted across the state starting Saturday, which has given parents and students hope towards a more traditional high school graduation ceremony.

“No masks, that’s going to be great,” Daniel Mecher from Blandford said.

So, many big events have been celebrated behind a screen or behind a mask. However, for the first time in over a year, people are looking forward to the possibility of celebrating a huge milestone, high school graduation, in person.

“Very happy for these kids to have a graduation ceremony.. without any masks, just feel free finally after all this time,” Mark Chaisson of Westfield said.

The restrictions scheduled to be lifted on Saturday include capacity limitations and mask-wearing in most public places. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is likely to follow suit, and align its guidelines with the state. The department’s official guidelines will be released on Saturday.

22News spoke with Nicole Gogol and Leah Martin, both soon to be high school graduates.

“I’m excited,” Leah said.

“I’d prefer it,” said Nicole. “At school, we don’t have to wear our masks outside or separate from each other, so what’s the difference.”

Leah’s brother, Braden Martin told 22News he’s just excited to take his mask off and be in close proximity to one another.

“To be close to each other, that’d be so much better. And it just makes it a lot more fun,” he said.

The sibling’s mom, Jennifer Martin agreed that it’s time to take the masks off. She said for her, masks have made communication with others challenging.

“Get back to seeing people smile again, you didn’t realize how much you watch their mouths move when people talk, and to be able to notice what people are saying. It’s muffled and it’s hard and I think that people don’t talk to each other with masks on,” Jennifer said.

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