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Posted on: May 11, 2020

COVID-19: Graduation/Commencement Celebration Guidance

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Graduation is an important milestone in a student’s academic journey and deserves to be celebrated. With graduation season upon us, schools are seeking clarification and guidance on how they can safely observe and honor the occasion in alignment with public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. This guidance document, which was developed in consultation with school leaders and the Minnesota Department of Health, outlines different options for school districts, charter schools, and colleges and universities to consider while they contemplate how to best honor their graduates. The safety and well-being of Minnesota’s students and their families, as well as school staff, is our number one priority. We know how much students in the class of 2020 have sacrificed this year, and how disappointing it is not to participate in the milestones or traditions they had imagined. These guidelines were made with public health protection in mind, and adhering to them is how we will both celebrate our students and move safely through this challenge together. 

The safest way to observe graduation/commencement is for everyone to stay home. Indoor graduations and ceremonies held outside in stadiums and footballs fields are not permitted. 

A ceremony that can be conducted remotely (e.g., virtually) and ensures attendees do not need to leave their homes is our top recommendation. If you chose to honor graduates virtually, please keep equity in mind so all students and families can participate. Remember that COVID19 is a highly contagious virus that is fatal, especially the elderly and those with underlying conditions, and is still spreading throughout Minnesota. Staying home is a crucial way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to collectively protect our community. We know that many schools have considered ceremonies outside in stadiums or football fields. In-person social gatherings with people from multiple households, even in situations where ample space between attendees could be accommodated, does not comply with social distancing practices and introduces a great deal of contact unpredictability and increases the potential for disease transmission. These gatherings are not considered safe at any size and will not be permitted. Likewise, indoor graduations/commencement ceremonies will also not be permitted. 

Some schools have indicated they are considering delaying graduation ceremonies until later in the summer to allow for a more traditional event. While we recognize the desire to honor this rite-of-passage in the more traditional way, we cannot offer a timeline for when public health guidance will be changed to accommodate large gatherings. Outlined below are parameters for hosting a graduation/commencement ceremony or other celebration (e.g., car parade, parking lot ceremony) outside the home, which increases the level of predictability and decreased risk of disease transmission.

For additional information, please see the Graduation/Commencement Celebration Guidance (PDF).

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