The University of Richmond will hold May graduation ceremonies in compliance with Gov. Ralph Northam’s distancing guidelines announced on March 17, according to an April email sent by Sunni Brown, director of media and public relations.
Graduates will be permitted to invite two guests to attend school-specific ceremonies and must adhere to COVID-safety precautions, according to the email. Precautions include measures already in place at UR, such as wearing a mask and maintaining 10 feet of physical distance between groups, Brown wrote.
The graduation ceremonies will take place from May 7 through May 9 in the Robins Stadium. There will be live streams and recordings of the ceremonies for families who cannot come in person, according to UR’s commencement website.
Celebrations for individual schools, such as the School of Professional and Continuing Studies and Robins School of Business will be held virtually, according to a Frequently-Asked-Questions page on the website.
UR is currently in the Orange Stage of its physical distancing framework, and if restrictions have to get tighter, there will be changes to graduation ceremony plans, according to the same FAQ page.
Current COVID-19 accommodations include touchless entry, assigned seats, hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue and collection of attendee information for contact tracing, according to the website.
Graduates will not be allowed to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, but they will stand up at their seats when their name is called while a slide of their face appears on a screen, senior Karen Fleming said.
A common consensus among Fleming and peers she has spoken to is that they wish they were able to walk across the stage at graduation, she said.
“I feel like there’s gotta be some way to walk across the stage and maintain adequate distance,” Fleming said. “But… they know the guidelines better than I do so I’m sure they are doing the best they can given the circumstances”
Senior Max Hasegawa said that after he had seen his younger sister’s 2020 high school graduation look different from a typical ceremony, he had anticipated that graduation at UR would not look like it had in the past.
Although Hasegawa echoed Flemings’ sentiments that the planning committee did the best they could, he said he did wish the two-person guest limit could be different in certain circumstances.
“I think my sister, she’s on-campus and everything, she should be an exception,” Hasegawa said.
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Fleming and Hasegawa said they were heading into graduation feeling burnt out, but they were still looking forward to the future.
“I think I’m excited to finally be able to look forward to the next chapter,” Fleming said. “Right now, we’re so down in the work trying to push through. We didn’t have spring break, which has been hard for everyone, so I haven’t, at least personally, had a moment to sit back and reflect on my last four years and what’s to come for me.”
Despite the unique challenges this semester has brought and the changed graduation, Fleming is optimistic about sharing May 9th with her loved ones, she said.
“I think that’ll be a really nice moment where I’ll finally have a sense of relief, a feeling of accomplishment,” Fleming said. “Even though [graduation] is different and we can’t do all the normal things we might do, I’m looking forward to being able to share that and be happy and joyful with my classmates and my friends and my family.”
Contact news writer Greta Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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