The University of Wyoming has announced they will not hold traditional spring commencement ceremonies in May, due to concerns surrounding large gatherings, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university is reportedly making plans for a virtual ceremony to be broadcast live Saturday, May 16.
Other options are also being developed for UW’s spring 2020 graduates to celebrate their accomplishments, according to a written statement from UW, sent on April 3, 2020.
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“Spring commencement is one of the great traditions of the university, something we all look forward to every year. The decision to modify the ceremonies this year is challenging for everyone,” said Acting President Neil Theobald, in a UW release. “However, under the circumstances, we really have no choice but to look for alternatives to the public gatherings on campus — just as other universities across the country are doing. Our primary focus is on the health of our graduates, their family and friends, and the hosting community in Laramie.”
The university says that details of the virtual ceremony are in the planning planning stages, and they hope to more information to students and families later.
“There are other options for members of the May 2020 graduating class,” the university statement continued. “First, they have the ability to return for a future spring or winter commencement ceremony. In fact, this is a practice that has been in place for many years at UW.”
“UW allows graduates who are not able to participate in their own commencement ceremony — due to a variety of circumstances, such as internships, study-abroad opportunities and illness — to participate in a later ceremony that is convenient for them,” Acting Vice President for Student Affairs Kim Chestnut says. “This spring’s graduates can participate in the winter 2020 or spring 2021 ceremonies, if they wish.”
UW says they are repurposing the spring 2020 commencement budget to purchase and deliver keepsakes for graduates, their families and friends. These commencement packages each will include a mortar board, tassel and stole so that graduates can have a “tassel-turning” moment during the virtual ceremony and take photographs.
“Those students graduating with honors could receive appropriate cords, and graduate students could receive hoods and tams. UW will not provide graduation robes, but they can be purchased if students want them,” UW says.
The university says they’re hoping to send information about how to opt-in to a commencement package via students’ UW email accounts next week. Students who already have ordered regalia will be contacted directly by the University Store.
“Nothing is the same as walking across the stage in front of your family and friends, but we hope these options will allow our graduates to still create and preserve memories marking their hard work and achievements,” Chestnut says.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: email@example.com
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.