Students raise their caps during a past commencement ceremony. 

Universities a part of the University of North Carolina System will postpone commencement ceremonies due to the effects of COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus.

UNC System Interim President Bill Roper announced at a board meeting on March 20 that all 17 of UNC’s campuses commencement ceremonies will be halted and postponed for a later time. With commencement ceremonies exceeding the 50 person count as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Roper said the student, faculty and staff health held precedence.

“We believe that spring graduation ceremonies will be disrupted, and it’s time to make alternative plans,” Roper said.

Roper said he understands the disappointment for students and their families with all of the hard work and time put into this goal.

Based on current federal and UNC System guidelines regarding the evolving nature of COVID-19, East Carolina University Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson released a statement that said the May 8 commencement ceremony will move to a virtual event and ECU is discussing an in-person event (or events) for later this year for graduates. He said the university will keep students informed about in-person events as soon as the plans are finalized.

“The university is working to develop a plan to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments. In addition to the virtual event in May, we are also discussing events in August and December to recognize our graduates,” Mitchelson said in his statement.

May’s in-person commencement celebrations, including unit and departmental ceremonies and Grad Bash, will not be held, according to the statement.

The decision to switch commencement to a virtual event may have been difficult for both Mitchelson and the university, but he claims in his statement that time spent at ECU earning an education is about more than “just one day.”

“We know you are disappointed. We are, too. Faculty and staff enjoy seeing graduates taking photos and celebrating with their families,” Mitchelson said. “We know commencement weekend is important and you have had it marked on your calendar for a long time, but your education from ECU is more than just one day.”

All upcoming information on ECU’s commencement will be on its website. For now, plans are still in the process of being finalized.

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