One of the many endless things that COVID has seemed to cancel or turn upside down is graduation ceremonies. Around this time a year ago, thousands of high-school and college seniors were given the devastating news that their graduation ceremonies would be cancelled or postponed, as they could not possibly follow the strict social-distancing rules to guarantee the safety of everyone who attended. Many smaller high schools were able to pull off socially distanced ceremonies, with their students seated six feet apart and limiting the guests invited. But many students from larger college’s or high schools were not given the graduation ceremonies they worked so hard for.
However, one year later, happy news has come for the UMD class of 2021. UMass Dartmouth is planning to hold a series of in-person commencement ceremonies for June 2021! The ceremonies are planned to be held during the weekend of June 11, 12 and 13th. This news is coming in the midst of more Massachusetts residents becoming eligible for their COVID-19 vaccines, especially since many US citizens should be eligible for their vaccines by the end of April. While this is very happy news for the students who have worked so hard the past four years to earn their diplomas, there are still going to be some strict social-distancing guidelines, which should not come as a surprise for anyone.
One of the biggest changes about the commencement ceremony this year is that each graduating student will have to be six feet apart from one another, thus the reason the ceremonies will be held on three different days. One can imagine that the students will be sitting on a large field in chairs six feet apart from one another, and will more than likely need to keep their masks on, save from when they are getting their pictures taken with their diploma. Guests are also being limited to only two people per graduate. Normally, guests are limited to no more than six per graduate, but there are simply too many graduates to have more than two guests and still be practicing social-distancing in a safe manner. However, the ceremony will most likely be recorded live, giving people not present the ability to watch their loved ones earn their very hard-earned degrees.
Clearly, the commencement ceremony of 2021 will not be like other graduations people have seen before. But people are learning to find compromise or middle ground. An in-person ceremony can still happen, with just a few extra steps and sacrifices from everyone. Six feet apart, mask mandates for every attendee, and no more than two guests per graduate. UMass Dartmouth is doing their very best to make sure everyone can get through this ceremony in a safe manner, and give the graduates the ceremony they deserve. If anyone is interested, a commencement ceremony survey can be found in the emails of every UMD student, in case anyone has any questions or opinions they wish to address