School Graduation Ceremonies

Updated May 18, 2021

Outdoor ceremonies

The total number of persons present at an outdoor graduation ceremony must not exceed the outdoor venue’s maximum occupancy. If an outdoor venue does not have a formal certificate of occupancy, 40 square feet per person must be used to calculate the occupancy limit.

Schools planning outdoor graduations should put careful thought and planning into a back-up plan in case of inclement weather. Back-up venues must meet all the requirements outlined in this guidance.

Indoor Ceremonies

The total number of persons present at an indoor graduation ceremony is limited to 250 people. A school that plans an indoor graduation ceremony must obtain a Letter of Approval for their plan showing how it would meet the general requirements of the regulation.

Requirements for all graduation ceremonies

Ceremony requirements

  • Ceremonies must not exceed 2 hours, but the venue may be open for an hour in advance and after the ceremony to prevent crowding at points of ingress and egress.
  • No more than 10 persons must be. permitted on the stage at any given time.  Persons on the stage must be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Only single performers/speakers must be allowed (e.g., no choirs or bands) during the ceremony.
  • A minimum of 12 feet must be maintained from the audience if performers/speakers are masked.
  • A minimum of 18 feet must be maintained from the audience if performers/speakers are unmasked.
  • Use of shared objects during the graduation should be minimized (e.g. microphones).
  • Diplomas must be distributed with no handshake or physical contact.
  • No food or beverage service is permitted during ceremonies (including concession stands).
  • If permitted by the venue, guests may bring their own beverages/snacks which may only be consumed while seated.
  • All guests must be seated and remain in their seats throughout the ceremony. 
  • Any items handed out to guests must be single use or cleaned and disinfected between each guest use (e.g., assisted audio devices).

Communication and Response

Schools must develop a comprehensive plan to communicate measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with all attendees of the graduation.  The plan must:

  • Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers in the communication plan.
  • Communicate COVID-19 policies to staff (including vendors), guests and students, (e.g., on school/graduation website, social media sites, prominent signage at entrances and throughout the venue, message screens and public announcements before and during the graduation).
  • If an attendee becomes sick while at the graduation ceremony, the school must have a protocol in place for that individual to immediately leave the venue. If they are unable to immediately leave (e.g., they need to wait for a ride), there should be a process that allows them to isolate until they are able to leave.  People who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on the severity of their symptoms.  Public transportation should not be used.
  • Must identify a point of contact that staff or an attendee can notify if they test positive for COVID-19 within the 2 weeks from the date of the graduation and choose to disclose this information.
  • In the event of a positive test result, the COVID-19 Point of Contact must notify the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (240-777-1755) within one business day of the notice and provide them with the name and contact information of the positive case.
  • Put systems in place to encourage self-reporting.


Although not required, the following are strongly recommended:

More school information