Graduate pic

Alaska’s high school graduates will be allowed to participate in small, heavily sanitized in-person graduation ceremonies under new COVID-19 health guidelines released from the state.

An April 23 notice from the state’s Education Commissioner Michael Johnson lays out specific requirements for school district superintendents across Alaska. This includes virtual events and in-person ceremonies which could include drive-in or walk-through graduations.


  • Groups of less than 20 people may meet with individuals maintaining 6-feet separation
  • Non-speaking personnel must wear face coverings
  • No physical interaction between participants


  • If singing or projecting of voices, 10 feet of separation must be between each person


  • Groups of less than 20 people are allowed
  • Social distancing of six feet maintained between every person and 10 feet between any speaker or singer and other participants
  • Clear protocols for dispersal of students after diploma collection
  • If a student has household members observing from a vehicle, the student may proceed directly to that vehicle
  • All participants must wear face coverings.
  • Diplomas may be conferred in the following manner
    • Those who touch the diplomas or shared surfaces must wear gloves and face coverings
    • Diplomas should be placed on a surface at least six feet away from students waiting to be called
    • Those handling diplomas must move to a place at least six feet away from the surface
    • The student’s name can then be announced
    • Students must collect diplomas from the surface and proceed to a designated area to maintain social distancing
    • Once the student is at least six feet away, the next diploma may be placed, and another student called


  • Ceremonies can include onlookers who gather in vehicles at a designated location
  • Onlookers must remain in their vehicle at all times
  • Each vehicle may only hold members of the same household
  • Vehicles must be parked with six feet separation between vehicles
  • Onlookers may not interact physically with school personnel or participants in other vehicles
  • Up to 20 staff members (including speakers) may be present to organize the ceremony
  • Face coverings for non-speaking personnel
  • Singers and speakers must maintain 10-foot separation from other participants


  • Schools may set up a protocol to allow students and a small group (less than 10) of family members from their own household to enter a facility at regular intervals to proceed to a designated photo and/or video area to pick up diplomas from a table

The guidelines also provide a detailed example of how one school has organized a walk-through ceremony in compliance with state mandates.

Click here to read the all graduation health protocols.

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Alaska allows graduation ceremonies with strict limits

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.