Coronavirus: Minnesota confirms ban on large-scale graduation ceremonies

It wants schools to offer virtual ceremonies, or parade-style options.

The Minnesota Departments of Education and Health have issued guidance for schools relating to Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies.

The state has said that due to social distancing rules enforced by the COVID-19 outbreak, conventional graduation ceremonies will not be permitted to go ahead.

"We know that many schools have considered ceremonies outside in stadiums or football fields," the guidance says. "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."

Instead, the state is recommending that schools conduct virtual ceremonies or any ceremony that doesn't require students to leave their home.

It does provide guidance in the event a school wants to hold a "safe celebration" such as a car parade or a parking lot ceremony.

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Some schools have still been trying to go ahead with a ceremony this year by delaying. Mound Westonka for example has pushed back commencement, scheduled for May 29, to June 25, but if that can't happen an "in-person or virtual ceremony" on July 23.

"The health and safety of our students and their families will always be our top priority," said Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker.

"This year's graduation ceremonies will look different than they traditionally do, and I am confident our schools will find creative ways to recognize the incredible work and commitment of our graduating students. The class of 2020 persisted in their education through this unprecedented and uncertain time with a school experience that was difficult to navigate.

"I am proud of these students, I am inspired by these students, and I congratulate them on never giving up and reaching this major milestone."

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"This year, maybe more than ever before, college students have been challenged in ways they never expected, both academically and personally," added Commissioner Dennis Olson, Minnesota Office of Higher Education. 

"I want to extend my heartfelt admiration and congratulations to each graduate for meeting this critical milestone in their life, and I wish them much success in the future."

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