Navajo Nation says schools must host outside only graduation ceremonies

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Department of Health has announced the Navajo Nation graduation and promotion guidelines all schools on the reservation are required to follow by the Navajo Nation.

The guidelines allow for limited in-person outdoor graduation events for high school (seniors only) and college/university graduates. Only virtual/live-streamed or drive-thru graduation events are allowed for all other grade levels.

“We understand that this is a very special occasion for graduates, their families, and for the schools. Last year, all in-person graduation ceremonies were prohibited because of the outbreak of COVID-19. Now that we have well over half of the adult population fully vaccinated, our public health experts have developed requirements and protocols for schools, students, and families to follow," said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. "We ask that each school comply with all requirements and guidelines to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. All schools are also encouraged to provide families and the public the option to watch graduation ceremonies online as well. I congratulate all of our graduates across the Navajo Nation and wish you and your families a safe and enjoyable graduation.”

For in-person outdoor high school and college/university graduation events:

• Graduation events must be held outdoors, no indoor events are allowed;

• Events should only last two hours or less;

• Face masks are required to be worn by all attendees at all times;

• Each graduation event is limited to 50 or less graduates (multiple events may be held at separate times, at least 2-hours apart, to accommodate graduating classes larger than 50);

• School administrative staff attendance is not to exceed 40 or more;

• Each graduate is allowed to have 1 to 4 guests and not to exceed 100 guests;

• All attendees must pre-register to avoid on-site sign-in sheets, only those who pre-register will be allowed to attend in-person;

• All attendees must be self-screened for COVID-19 symptoms using CDC guidelines;

• Attendees can be screened for fever and COVID-19 symptoms before attending;

• Guests/families that live in the same home may sit together, but each family group from separate households must be seated at least six-feet apart; schools are to provide visual markers to designate seating areas for each family;

• Schools must maintain a record of all attendees for at least 30 days to assist with contact tracing;

• Graduates are to be seated at least six-feet apart from each other and all guests;

• Diplomas are to be passed with no handshakes and no person-to-person contact;

• Presenters and speakers may remove masks if they are at least 10-feet away from others. If singing or chanting is planned, performers need to be staged a minimum of 10 feet away from others while outdoors. Discourage audience members from yelling and other practices that may increase the likelihood of transmission from droplets;

• Graduates may remove masks for a professional photograph after receiving their diplomas. The individual must put their mask back on immediately after the photograph is taken. Graduates shall not remove their masks while standing in procession lines. Schools are encouraged to set up a designated area for photos to encourage physically distancing;

• Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces including microphones;

• Consider separate entrances and exits to the venue with one-way flow;

• No food or drinks distributed during graduation events, except for bottled water;

• No food/drink concession stands allowed and pre-packaged food/drinks may be distributed via drive-thru at a separate designated location to consume in vehicles or at home.

For all other grade levels, kindergarten on up only virtual/live-streamed, drive-thru, car parade or drive-in graduation events are allowed.

Only virtual/live-streamed is permitted for Head Start graduates

The Navajo Nation graduation and promotion guidelines also recommend that eligible individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to attending a graduation event. It also outlines guidelines for post-graduation receptions and private gatherings at home.

More information or to view the complete Navajo Nation graduation and promotion guidelines visit www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.

Information provided by the Office of the President and Vice President

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