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Can graduation ceremonies be held? Where can administrators find certification forms for in-person ceremonies for school districts or universities?

Last Updated: 04/02/2021

School districts and colleges/universities are allowed to hold modified in-person graduation ceremonies so long as they adhere to the limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and follow required safety protocols.

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has published graduation guidance for school districts, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) has published graduation guidance for institutions of higher education for modified in-person graduation ceremonies.

Both include requirements that ceremonies adhere to social distancing protocols and restrict capacity to protect the health and safety of students and families celebrating these milestones amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Outdoor ceremonies must comply with the 200-person limit on outdoor gatherings. Social distancing must be in place, and face masks are required in indoor spaces and outdoor spaces whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain.

In addition, large venues with a fixed seating capacity of 2,500 or more may host events at 20 percent capacity indoors and 30 percent capacity outdoors. Both capacity limits exclude participants, such as athletes and performers, and staff, such as coaches and ushers, but include patrons and other members of the public.

NOTE: No one who has traveled through a COVID-19 hotspot – whether a student or family member – should be participating in or attending a graduation ceremony.

Certification Forms

School districts and institutions of higher education that plan to hold modified in-person ceremonies must certify to NJDOE or to OSHE that the planned ceremony will comply with applicable requirements for gatherings, including those addressing social distancing.

The DOE Graduation Certification Form for school districts is available here.

The OSHE Graduation Certification Form for institutions of higher education is available here.

The applicable form must be submitted no later than seven days prior to the scheduled date of the ceremony.

Source:;Executive Order No. 152; Executive Order No. 196; Executive Order No. 230; Executive Order No. 234