Editor’s note: Prior to the announcement that graduation ceremonies will be held virtually, rather than in-person, university officials had their fingers crossed as they planned to do it live. Here is the story published about those plans and precautions prior to the decision to be safe and go virtual:
Graduation — the moment students and their parents anticipate from the outset of the college journey — will look different this winter.
It is still scheduled for December 19 in Allen Arena, but because of COVID, attendance will be limited, leaving out the parents. And, given the surge of the virus, there still is a chance it will be moved online, as it was last spring.
In the spring, graduates didn’t have the opportunity to walk across the stage. For the first time in the university’s history, they hosted a virtual graduation. Students and their families watched the ceremony online.
This semester Lipscomb is trying — despite the COVID pandemic — to give students the opportunity to walk across the stage.
Because of the concerns about crowds and social distancing, the ceremony will be limited to faculty and graduates only. Parents, family members, and friends will have to watch the graduation ceremony through live stream.
Provost Craig Bledsoe describes the pains taken to make sure graduation is safe during this era of the killer virus.
“Knowing the restrictions we have, our plan is to have a graduation that resembles, looks like, feels like, what a regular graduation would look like for students,” he said.
“Graduation will be physically distanced as much as possible, with guidelines we’ve been given by the city and state as well as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.)
“This will be for graduates, that’s probably going to be the biggest difference, we won’t have guests at the ceremony itself.”
There is some trepidation though that this may not work, since positive COVID cases are rising daily all across the country, and the CDC itself has predicted 200,000 more deaths in the U.S. by February.
If it must be changed to deal with new restrictions on gatherings, Lipscomb is fully prepared to have a virtual graduation ceremony for students.
“…If we have to (virtual), we are going down two paths right now,” said the provost. “One, is to be there and be in person, but also to know that if things do get worse or if we’re actually prevented from doing so by the city or state, we can pivot by making it virtual.”