Beginning June 26, when pre-COVID, local schools had planned to kick off graduation, they’ll now be allowed to hold socially-distanced ceremonies of up to 150 people, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
Also Sunday, Governor Cuomo said he will issue an Executive Order extended the deadline for school districts to receive school budget ballots, and effective immediately, all churches will be able to open at 25 percent of occupancy during Phase 2 of reopening.
Voting on school budgets, board seats, and propositions was yesterday by paper ballot with the deadline 5pm.
Most districts, however, struggled to get the ballots in voters hands in time for them to be mailed back by the 5pm deadline and so set up boxes so they could be hand-delivered.
Under Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order, however, ballots will now be counted if they’re received in the mail through June 16.
For the state’s June 23 primary election, the deadline for absentee ballots to be received has been extended to the day of the election; to be counted, ballots must be post-marked by the 23rd.
Governor Cuomo had previously issued Executive Orders allowing all New Yorkers to vote absentee in the primary and ensuring every New Yorker registered to vote receives a postage-paid absentee ballot application in the mail.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world, and while we are making great progress and the numbers keep going down, no New Yorker should have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Governor Cuomo said.
“Extending the deadline to submit absentee ballots builds on our previous Executive Orders to make it easier for New Yorkers to vote absentee in the upcoming primary election and it will help to increase voter participation as we continue to fight this virus.”
Effective Sunday, Governor Cuomo said places of worship in the seven regions in Phase 2, including the Mohawk Valley, will be permitted to reopen with 25 percent occupancy with all social distancing protocols in place .
“I was speaking to a minister about this,” he said. “He said ‘Twenty-five percent occupancy, that is good news because it is better than zero. But 25 percent occupancy, then I have to have four services to get everyone in.’ Then he said, ‘Well you know, I have to give the same sermon four times… hopefully by the fourth time I get it right.’
“Yes. 25 percent occupancy is not as easy as 100 percent occupancy but 100 percent occupancy is mass gathering and you really can’t do social-distancing. So Phase 2, 25 percent occupancy. That begins immediately.”
The requirements on both graduation and churches—like advancing to any next reopening phase—is subject to change pending and outbreaks or significant change in the metrics.
New York City has met all seven metrics to begin reopening and kicked off Phase 2 Monday, with Mid-Hudson Valley and Long Island Regions now in Phase 2 and the Mohawk Valley Region, which includes Schoharie County, eyeing Phase 3, possibly within the week.
“In terms of reopening, we have been calibrating our strategy based on the data and the facts, and overall the numbers are down, the numbers are good and our plan is working,” Governor Cuomo said.
“Based on today's numbers we can continue to advance our reopening, and we will now allow outdoor graduations of up to 150 beginning June 26. New Yorkers have worked together to bend this curve quickly, and if we continue on this trajectory, remain responsible and follow all social distancing protocols, we can keep accelerating our reopening strategy.”