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Posted Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Modified In-Person Graduation Ceremonies Permitted

Governor Phil Murphy today announced that the New Jersey Department of Education and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) will issue updated guidance allowing school districts and colleges/universities to hold modified in-person graduation ceremonies beginning on July 6.

COVID-19: Gov. Allowing Outdoor, In-Person Graduations Allowed AFTER July 6

The guidance will include requirements that ceremonies be held outdoors, adhere to social distancing protocols, and observe capacity restrictions in order to protect the health of students and families celebrating these milestones amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the uncertainty of these times, our students deserve to have their hard work acknowledged and celebrate safely. We have reached a point where we feel confident
moving forward and giving our graduates the send-off they have so rightly earned,” said Gov. Murphy.

The following requirements have been set for commencement ceremonies:

  • Must take place on or after July 6, 2020;
  • Must take place outdoors or be drive-in/drive-through (no indoor ceremonies allowed);
  • Must adhere to capacity limitation in place at the time of the ceremony (this may require districts to hold multiple ceremonies to ensure capacity restrictions are not exceeded);
  • Districts and institutions must determine the minimum number of staff and faculty necessary to facilitate commencement;
  • Caps, gowns, diplomas, and other materials must be mailed to student homes, sent electronically where possible;

All activities must be coordinated in consultation with municipal officials, such as the local Office of Emergency Management, local law enforcement, first responders, and health officials.

Additionally, guidance stipulates that commencements are only for graduation from middle school or high school. Districts and institutions of higher education can continue to opt for virtual or drive-through/drive-in ceremonies held.