Public Health issues updated requirements for graduation ceremonies

Catholic school graduation.(PNC file photo)

The Department of Public Health and Social Services has issued Guidance Memo 2021-14 Amendment #1 relative to updated requirements for graduation ceremonies for Schools (K-12) and Institutions of Higher Education (IHE).

The requirements contained in the guidance memo are intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while providing schools and IHEs an option for a traditional graduation ceremony. DPHSS Guidance Memo 2021-14 Amendment #1 supersedes DPHSS Guidance Memo 2021-14 in its entirety, and provides general requirements and restrictions for social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, with mandates for all graduation ceremonies other than the “Grad and Go” concept which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The total number of persons shall be limited to no more than the outdoor area can maintain with the required physical distance if held outdoors.

  • Each graduate’s group of guests are to be physically distanced between each group by six (6) feet.

  • All Schools and IHEs who would like to have an indoor or outdoor graduation ceremony must develop and submit a detailed COVID-19 mitigation plan to DPHSS at least 14 days prior to the scheduled graduation ceremony.  All plans should be sent via email to Schools which anticipate holding graduation ceremonies sooner than 14 days from May 7, 2021 are to contact DPHSS Division of Environmental Health (DEH) immediately.  Failure to comply will place Schools and IHEs in non-compliance with DPHSS guidance that may result in penalties/fines.

  • The total number of persons shall be limited to no more than 50% occupancy load with seating, provided the indoor area can maintain the required physical distance if held indoors.

  • All attendees (graduates, family/guests, school staff and faculty) must wear face masks at all times.

  • Have a plan in place for staggered entrances and exits and other common places where people congregate in order to reduce the occurrence of bottlenecks.

  • Staff or attendants must be designated to ensure that only those individuals who pre-registered are allowed entrance to attend the graduation event.

  • High-touch areas and toilet facilities should be properly staffed to service, clean, and disinfect prior to, during, and after the event.

To view DPHSS Guidance Memo 2021-14 Amendment #1 in its entirety, click HERE. For further questions, please contact the DEH at 300-9579 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, Monday through Friday, excluding weekends and holidays, or email

(JIC Release No. 661)