August 1, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students:

I hope you and your family are doing well.  I write about our upcoming graduation ceremonies on Saturday, August 1.  We were all disappointed when we had to postpone the graduation from its original date of June 6 and from our traditional location at St. John’s University.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused much pain, loss, and hardship throughout the country and world.  At the beginning of our school closure, St. Francis Prep committed to appropriately recognizing and celebrating our graduating seniors; our ceremonies onAugust 1 will be the fulfillment of that pledge.  This letter contains all the directions for and information about our graduation ceremonies.  I realize it is a long message.  It is important that you read all items and commit yourself and your family to following all the indicated protocols.  It is essential that we celebrate this graduation safely for everyone.  Our graduation will follow and maintain all safety protocols established by the New York State Department of Health, the Governor of New York State, and the Mayor of New York City.  I thank you for your support, understanding, and cooperation.

  • On the morning of August 1, students must fully follow these directions:
  • Seniors must take their own temperature, witnessed by their parent or guardian.  If the temperatureis 100.0 or higher, students must remain home and consult with their health care provider for further instructions.
  • Students with a temperature below 100.0 must ask themselves the following questions:
  • Have I had any COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days?
  • Have I tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
  • Have I had any close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
  • Have I traveled to any of the "hot spot" states, as indicated by NY Governor Cuomo, in the past 14 days?
  • Have I traveled internationally or been on a cruise or riverboat in the past 14 days?
  • Please review the directions from the school website to best understand the details of these questions:
  • If you respond YES to any of the above questions, remain home on August 1 and send Ms. Pappas (School Nurse) an e-mail:
  • If you have any concerns about your responses, please contact Ms. Pappas:
  • Please arrive at SFP with a mask on.  Each graduate will receive an SFP mask for the ceremony, which they may keep.Students MUST wear the SFP mask for the entire ceremony.
  • Please be sure to eat breakfast and drink water prior to arriving.
  • Please wear light-weight clothing under the SFP graduation gown. Please wear comfortable footwear.
  • No food or drink will be permitted while at SFP.  Please do not bring a water bottle; you will be asked to discard it before entering the graduation ceremony.
  • When you arrive (please: not more than 30 minutes before your ceremony), our staff will direct you to go immediately to your assigned seat under the tent. 
  • As graduates arrive, we require that they have their masks on and socially distance.
  • If you have a medical condition that requires the use of an inhaler, epipen, or any other device, please be sure to have that with you in case the need arises.
  • According to guidelines set forth by New York State Department of Health, “In-person gatherings for the purposes of a graduation ceremony are restricted to a maximum of 150 individuals.”  As a result, parents, guardians, and family members may not be in attendance. We respectfully request that parents not gather around the ceremony and abide by social distancing rules and regulations.
  • The ceremony will be held outdoors rain or shine. 
  • Drop off for the ceremony will be on Horace Harding Blvd. by the St. Francis Statue.  Seniors will arrive 30 minutes prior to their scheduled graduation time.  Students will be dismissed to Francis Lewis Blvd.  We ask parents and guardians not to double park around the school; this causes an unsafe environment, blocks traffic, and prevents students who are coming to the next ceremony to park.
  • There will be 4 ceremonies; each ceremony will last about one hour;the time in between each ceremony will allow our Maintenance Staff to properly sanitize the area for the next group of graduates.
  • 9:00 a.m. Cors 401-404
  • 11:00a.m. Cors405-409
  • 2:00 p.m. Cors410-413
  • 4:00 p.m. Cors414-418 
  • Because we cannot accommodate guests of our graduates on site, we are live-streaming each ceremony for the benefit of friends and families to watch from the comfort of their homes on smart phones, tablets, computers, or smart TVs.  The stream will be available to all viewers on the home page of the school website:  The stream can be sent through Bluetooth to compatible speakers and car audio or cast to smart TVs or media devices.
  • All 4 ceremonies will be recorded, edited, and posted on the website during the week of August 3. There will also be a DVD of the ceremonies available for purchase.  Information for purchasing is available on
  • The seniors will be seated alphabetically with appropriate social distancing between all seats. In accordance with Department of Health guidelines, “Students may momentarily remove their face covering for pictures provided that they maintain appropriate social distancing from other individuals.” Picture taking will be done only on stage.
  • When called, graduates will proceed to the stage, have their photo taken, pick up their diploma off stage, and then return to their seat.  As Department of Health guidelines indicate, diplomas will be set up “for students to retrieve them without direct interaction with other individuals.”  Sanitizer will be available.
  • Photographs will be posted the following week on the school website.  Families will be able to download and print these photographs. 
  • Caps will NOT be tossed at the conclusion of the ceremony.   In addition, “There must be no person-to-person contact during the celebration.  Individuals may not shake hands” (Department of Health guidelines). 
  • Police and EMS will be present.

Your decision to attend the ceremony indicates your acceptance of these guidelines and commitment to abide by them and all St. Francis Prep policies and regulations.  Please respect all protocols established by City and State government officials, the Department of Health, and St. Francis Prep.  The health and safety of everyone is our top priority.
We know this ceremony will be different from previous graduation ceremonies; we also know it will be a dignified and appropriate commencement for the Class of 2020.  We look forward to seeing you on August 1 and to a great day.  Stay well.  Take care.  God bless us all.
Patrick McLaughlin

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