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Phil Murphy’s Department of Education Wants Drive-by Parades Stopped; Warns of “Negative Consequences”

Drive-by Parades May Result in Negative Consequences for You and Your Family

MOUNT HOLLY, NJ – Governor Phil Murphy has said his piece on drive-by graduation parades.  The practice has become the one glimmer of hope for those children locked indoors during their birthday or unable to celebrate other big occasions, like college and high school graduations.   “I don’t believe there’s one fast, quick answer on that, but I do think we’ve got to be very careful,” Murphy said several weeks ago. “I think we’ve got to stay at home.”

All across New Jersey, businesses, residents, fire departments, EMT’s and even police departments participate in these events.  Now, the state wants them to end and warns of negative consequences for those who do it. This week, the New Jersey Department of Education, according to the Mount Holly School District, has sent a new directive to school districts to stop the practice.

“Our district has been advised by the New Jersey Department of Education Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning that recent ‘drive-by’ or ‘wave’ events ‘contravene’ the governor’s orders against unnecessary travel, and promote unsafe practices.” the district said. “School leaders say Mount Laurel Police and the county prosecutor’s offices said citations could be issued for participating in drive-by events. While we understand and appreciate everyone’s wishes to reach out in a more relevant way, please do not participate in events which may result in negative consequences for you and your family,”

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The Mount Laurel Police Department issued a rebuttal to the ridiculous new directive coming from Trenton.

“It has come to our attention that The Mount Laurel School District has put out information stating The Mount Laurel Police Department and Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office would prosecute drive-by motor vehicle parades. This is not the case,” the department said. “While the Mount Laurel Police Department is not participating in any of these parades, we strongly encourage residents who do, to do so in moderation and continue to follow the Governor’s directives. We understand the joy and excitement the parades provide and hope they continue to happen in a safe manner. Please see the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office Post concerning our shared views on such parades.”

The release continued:

We would like to thank the residents of Burlington County for their cooperation concerning the public safety restrictions implemented by the Governor to help ease the spread of COVID-19. We are starting to see glimmers of hope that this awful pandemic is relaxing its grip on our region, in no small part due to our collective efforts to stay home and practice social distancing. Our local police departments have done a tremendous job engaging with their residents about the restrictions of the Executive Orders during this public health emergency. Our motto is to encourage compliance and address defiance.

One issue that has created confusion about compliance with the current social distancing requirements and the restrictions on non-essential travel outside the home are so-called birthday and teacher drive-by parades. These parades have proven to be big pick-me-ups to students missing their teachers, teachers missing their students, and people whose birthdays have fallen during this period of extreme social distancing when they cannot celebrate with family and friends the way they ordinarily would. We have also seen our first responders organize parades to honor and thank our tireless healthcare workers, who have played such a huge, selfless role in treating the many people sickened by COVID-19 in such a short time. They even have been used as a way to mourn and honor the dead during this time when proper memorial services are not feasible.

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Drive-by parades generally have been approved throughout New Jersey as being in compliance with the Executive Orders. Governor Murphy has described these parades as “touching,” but, understandably, he has cautioned that they should be done “in moderation,” so we don’t lose sight of our critical goal of staying home, staying healthy, and ending this pandemic as soon as possible, and with as few losses as possible.

We believe Governor Murphy has struck the right chord for drive-by parades, and to address the open questions about them, we provide the following guidance for Burlington County: Drive-by parades should be done in moderation. Any drive-by parade must observe the requirements of social distancing, including that there be no “gathering” of more than 10 people, and no clustering of cars ahead of time to “marshal” for the parade. It should be organized prior to the date through instructions communicated via social media, email, texts, phone calls, etc. Vehicles should be staggered (with only family members or no more than 1 or 2 people in them), with times set for each one to drive by (one at 6:15, one at 6:16, and so on). Vehicles should not linger or congregate after driving by.

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