The College of William & Mary announced Monday the university would postpone the Class of 2020’s commencement ceremonies until May 2021 due to the coronavirus.
“Our dearest wish was to celebrate your Commencement in-person and on campus in October,” Ginger Ambler, Commencement Committee chairwoman and vice president for Student Affairs, wrote in a letter to students. “We know our graduates and families want to be able to gather freely, in large numbers for everything from the Candlelight Ceremony and Walk Across Campus, to our formal exercises themselves.”
“Unfortunately, as we look ahead to the fall semester, gathering graduates and families in these ways is neither safe nor feasible in light of the ongoing pandemic,” she noted.
Ambler wrote the graduation ceremony will not be combined with the Class of 2021 graduates and more details about the graduation ceremonies including specific dates will be released in the early spring semester.
In-person gatherings such as Family Weekend and Homecoming & Reunion Weekend “will be reimagined as opportunities for virtual gatherings.”
“While Virginia remains in Phase III, the fall is uncertain, and we recognize that families may not feel safe traveling here from elsewhere,” she wrote.
The university’s goal is to “prioritize safety” while having in-person classes and they have adapted its campus operations by “implementing safety protocols,” Erin Zagursky, associate director of university news, wrote in an email.
She responded to a question on why the university plans to reopen in the fall but has postponed the graduation ceremony.
“Implementing those protocols for an event like Commencement, which includes a large number of people in a relatively small space, is much more challenging and less feasible than implementing those same measures across campus, where, for instance, it is possible to de-densify and establish shared norms and expectations around such things as face coverings,” she wrote. “For the safety of our community, we want to limit as many people visiting campus as possible this year.”
William & Mary had planned to host a traditional graduation ceremony on Oct. 10.
“Hosting an in-person Commencement would bring thousands of visitors from all over the country and world to campus,” she added.
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