Ravenstahl: Socially distanced school commencements difficult, but right choice

As schools put public & student safety first, lawmaker appreciates educators’ hard work

PITTSBURGH, May 7 – As the continuing coronavirus crisis upends many aspects of our society and traditions, state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, D-Allegheny, said today he supports the North Hills and Northgate school districts’ difficult decisions to hold socially distant commencements for seniors.

“These trying times have forced all of us to make difficult decisions, have upended many things we take for granted, and have broken many of our cherished traditions. I know how much our seniors – and their families -- were looking forward to their end-of-school celebrations. But, as this deadly virus continues to spread through our communities, we must put public and student safety first,” Ravenstahl said. “After consulting with both Northgate and North Hills administrations, I appreciate the difficult decision they have had to make, and I support them.

“Unfortunately, we are in a situation where there are no right answers. There is no playbook for how to hold a commencement ceremony in a viral pandemic. I appreciate the hard work of all of our educators, administrators and staff, and I know that they are doing the best they can for their students, many of whom they look upon almost as family members. And while I wish that our senior could have had a normal year, I know that they will rise to the challenges of today, will emerge stronger for it and be ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.”

While Pittsburgh Public Schools have yet to announce their plans for spring graduation, Ravenstahl said he hopes that the district can, as resources allow, adopt a similar approach and that his office stands ready to help facilitate that.

“As I said before, we are in uncharted waters with this viral pandemic, and it is up to each district to chart a way forward as best they are able while putting the safety of their students, staff and the public first,” Ravenstahl said. “However, I know the hard work that our seniors have put into their educations, and we owe it to them to try and strike a balance that gives them the recognition they so richly deserve. Commencement ceremonies are great traditions, and I think it would be awesome for every senior in our community to have a chance to participate in a graduation ceremony. I believe every student, regardless of which school he or she attends, should have this special opportunity.