Virginia Tech plans for commencement, graduation alternatives amid COVID 19 concerns

Due to concerns over the recent COVID19 outbreak, Virginia Tech announced that it has chosen to cancel the regularly scheduled, in person commencement ceremony. Instead, Virginia Tech will host a virtual commencement ceremony in May for the graduating class of 2020.

All graduating students have also been invited to campus to celebrate with a senior tailgate, an “Enter Sandman” entrance into Lane Stadium, and complimentary attendance at the Sept. 26 home football game. In addition, graduates of the Class of 2020 are also welcome to participate in commencement in December 2020 and May 2021.

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Members of the graduating class of 2019 pose in front of Torgersen Bridge, April 22, 2019.

Despite the breadth of information given by Virginia Tech about university commencement, few details have been released about individual college and department events, usually held as separate ceremonies from commencement. According to Virginia Tech, it will be up to the heads of each department to decide which type of celebration best fits the needs of their students and faculty.

“The department is looking at a lot of the same options as Virginia Tech as a whole,” said Mark Widdowson, interim head of the department of civil and environmental engineering. “We will most likely hold an online ceremony, but we’re not making any decisions yet. We want to do what is best for the students.”

For some students, the lack of communication from their college’s about graduation ceremonies has caused some concern.

“I haven’t heard anything from the graduate school,” said Cassidy Dennis, graduate student in early childhood development. “I’m graduating in May, but no one has reached out to us about what that graduation will be.”

Another possible cause of confusion is college websites that have not been updated to reflect scheduling changes. The College of Natural Resources and the Environment still states that the in-person commencement ceremony for the college will be held on May 14 in Burruss Hall Auditorium. When reaching out to the college, an employee stated that the in-person ceremony will most likely not take place, but that they could not give any more information at this time.

“I just hope they can get this figured out quickly and find something that works for us,” Dennis said. “I understand why we wouldn’t have a ceremony in-person, but we need to have something. We all worked too hard for there to be nothing to show for it.”