Graduation Ceremony Guidance (Effective Date 5/25/2020)

MDE Graduation Ceremony Guidance Developed in Collaboration with the State Health Officer (Effective Date 5/25/2020)

School districts are urged to be thoughtful and careful in choosing and planning the best way to celebrate graduation and other milestones. Several options are available and can be successfully implemented all while keeping safe practices in mind.

Virtual Graduation Ceremonies
Virtual graduation ceremonies are the safest. This approach is strongly recommended to maximize the safety and health of everyone involved. There are many good examples to be found on social media of virtual graduation ceremonies using technology.

Some examples of other acceptable school graduation ceremonies are:

Drive-thru graduations

  • Variation 1: Students and their families drive up to the school (wearing masks). Only the student gets out of the car to receive the diploma, the principal says the name of the student on a loudspeaker, a photo or video is taken of the student by school staff, and the family drives away.
  • Variation 2: In this variation, all family members stay in the car. The senior is in the front seat and the principal passes the diploma through the car window and shares congratulations. Everyone wears masks. The student is photographed by school staff in a separate location.

Single family in-person graduation
Families are called into the auditorium one-by-one (no more than 10 people total including the school administrators), the student walks across the stage, receives a diploma and walks out of the auditorium and back to the car. The next family enters. Attention should be paid to disinfecting surfaces (door handles, hand railings, etc.) that may be repeatedly touched. Also, strict parking management and regulation is needed to prevent congregating in parking lots and outdoor locations. This can be done by appointment only to ensure a smooth process for all.

Structured and Controlled In-Person Graduation Ceremonies
More care and complex planning is required in attempting structured and controlled in-person graduation ceremonies. These types of ceremonies entail increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. In-person graduation ceremonies are strongly discouraged and should not occur in counties with higher levels of transmission. If an in-person graduation is deemed necessary, we recommend postponing until mid-summer.

To minimize risk of transmission, indoor and outdoor capacity should be limited to restrict the risk of transmission.

Outdoor Maximum Capacity: 100 people at a time

Indoor Maximum Capacity: 50 people at a time

For any group gathering, all people should

  • Maintained a minimum of 6 feet of distance from one another, including family members, at all times
  • Wear masks at all times except when speaking
  • Maintain 12 feet separation from others when singing
  • Have immediate access to hand sanitizer
  • Enter and leave in staggered fashion to maintain minimum of 6 feet from one another

Safety Officer
Any ceremony other than virtual must have a dedicated Safety Officer to ensure that all elements of the social distancing plan are in place and enforced. The Safety Officer should have sufficient staff to support the social distancing operations required to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission.