In-person graduation needs to continue… even during a global pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person commencements have been halted in order to slow the spread of the virus. This means that thousands of students will not get to walk across the stage feeling proud of their accomplishments and gaining closure from this chapter of their life. In-person commencements give graduates and their families a chance to come together and celebrate this huge accomplishment. The pandemic postponed or stopped most social gatherings for a later time. It’s as if time has stopped and celebrating accomplishments normally are no longer allowed.
Nearly every university in the U.S. postponed their spring graduation ceremonies. Now the fall semester is almost over, and universities are deciding on whether or not it is in their best interest to have in-person ceremonies. West Liberty University made the decision at the beginning of October to cancel their in-person ceremony on November 21 and replace it with a virtual ceremony held on December 5. This means graduating students will not get their chance to gain closure and celebrate their accomplishment.
Other universities across the country decided to go virtual in order to slow the spread of the virus, but some schools continued with in-person ceremonies. Waynesburg University, in Pennsylvania, held four in-person ceremonies back in August to make sure their graduates received a proper goodbye. Shenandoah University, in Virginia, held two in-person ceremonies under strict social distancing and maximum capacity guidelines of less than 250 people in attendance.
For smaller universities, the opportunity to have in-person ceremonies are easier. West Liberty University could hold multiple smaller ceremonies in the ASRC under social distancing guidelines. Ceremonies could be based on college or majors, reducing those in attendance and everyone’s risk of contracting the virus. This enables each graduate to celebrate their accomplishment in a traditional manor. Due to the smaller number of graduating students, the fall semester presents an excellent opportunity to implement this approach.
In-person ceremonies can happen if universities: 1) implement mandatory mask-wearing, 2) adhere strict social distancing guidelines, 3) and carry out multiple smaller graduations. Give our graduates the ceremonies and recognition they deserve.