Safe celebration options could include car parades or parking lot ceremonies.

The Minnesota Department of Education, Office of Higher Education and Minnesota Department of Health released guidance Friday for schools regarding graduation ceremonies. The main take-away is that they will not allow gymnasium or football field gatherings, but have provided guidance on what schools, colleges or universities would need to consider when contemplating a safe celebration outside of the home such as a car parade or parking lot ceremony.

The MDE, OHE and MDH said the guidance was developed jointly between the three departments.

"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."

The organizations reiterated that the top recommendation was for schools to hold a ceremony, like a virtual ceremony, that could be conducted remotely and ensure attendees do not have to leave their homes.

“This year, maybe more than ever before, college students have been challenged in ways they never expected, both academically and personally,” said 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.”

“Graduation is an important occasion and accomplishment in a student’s academic journey and deserves to be celebrated,” said Minnesota Department of Health Epidemiologist and COVID-19 School Liaison Susan Klammer. “These guidelines were made with public health protection in mind, and by adhering to them, we can celebrate our students while safely navigating this challenge together.”