by Debbie Truong

April 8, 2021

Schools and universities may plan for in-person graduation ceremonies this spring as long as attendance sizes are limited and physical distancing is observed, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday.

For outdoor ceremonies, pre-K to grade 12 schools, colleges, and universities must limit crowds to 25 percent of a venue’s capacity or 2,000 people, whichever is smaller, according to new guidance from D.C. Health.

Indoor ceremonies are limited to 25 percent of capacity or 250 people, whichever is smaller. After May 1, indoor gatherings may host up to 500 people if a venue does not reach more than one-fourth of its capacity.

The guidance comes as planning for spring commencement festivities across the District is well underway. Last academic year, many ceremonies were canceled, held online, postponed, or drastically modified because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, city health department officials set a number of strict guidelines, including requiring face masks, maintaining at least six feet distance between audience members, and restricting groups of guests to six people or fewer.


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