Gov. Phil Murphy announced the state will allow outdoor graduation ceremonies, beginning July 6, provided they comply with all social distancing regulations.
DOE and OSHE guidance, which will be issued in full on Wednesday, will include the following requirements 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 will be allowed);
- Must adhere to the relevant capacity limitation in place at the time of the ceremony (this may require districts to hold multiple ceremonies held over a period of time to ensure capacity restrictions are not exceeded);
- Districts and institutions must determine the minimum number of staff and faculty necessary to facilitate commencement ceremonies and adjust attendance requirements accordingly;
- Caps, gowns, diplomas, and other materials must be mailed to individual student homes, sent electronically where possible, or otherwise distributed in a manner that complies with social distancing guidelines;
- All activities must be coordinated in consultation with municipal officials, such as the local Office of Emergency Management, local law enforcement, first responders, and local health officials.
Additionally, DOE guidance will stipulate that commencements must be held only for graduation from middle school or high school, and not for other ceremonies that mark promotion from one grade to the next. Districts and institutions of higher education can continue to opt for virtual or drive-through/drive-in ceremonies held in accordance with Executive Order 142. Only virtual ceremonies can be held prior to July 6.