Tennessee Department of Education issues guidance for holding virtual, in-person graduation ceremonies

The state is leaving the decision on whether to hold virtual or in-person graduation ceremonies up to individual school districts. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The state is leaving the decision on whether to hold virtual or in-person graduation ceremonies up to individual school districts. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The state is leaving the decision on whether to hold virtual or in-person graduation ceremonies up to individual school districts. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

With schools closed statewide for the remainder of the academic year, the Tennessee Department of Education released guidelines April 23 for districts planning to hold virtual or in-person graduation ceremonies.

According to the guidelines, the decision on whether to host in-person ceremonies will remain at the discretion of individual school districts. However, officials are encouraging districts to consult with their local health departments and explore options that allow graduates and attendees to follow social distancing measures.

"While students will not be returning to classrooms this year, we know students, their families, schools and communities, they all want to be able to celebrate the hard work of our students, but most importantly celebrate the hard work of our graduating seniors," Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said during an April 23 press conference.

In an effort to maintain social distancing at ceremonies, education officials recommend schools hold graduation at football stadiums, large arenas or drive-in theaters. Other guidelines include increasing the number of ceremonies held at each school or allowing students to accept diplomas in front of the school while families take photos from vehicles or sidewalks.

On April 20, the Williamson County Schools Board voted to extend the graduation window for graduating seniors to May 22-July 31. Superintendent Jason Golden said WCS hopes to be able to hold in-person graduation ceremonies for seniors in late July of this year.


Metro Nashville Public Schools has not yet announced the district's plan for graduation ceremonies.

View the full guidelines for graduation ceremonies here.