Last month, when the University of Virginia announced the end of regular, in-person classes for the rest of the school year, one change hit many students particularly hard: the loss of Final Exercises on the Lawn.
At the time, UVa officials said that while May graduation ceremonies could not go forward “as currently planned,” they were exploring options.
On Friday, UVa announced — tentatively — that Class of 2020 graduations will take place Oct. 9-11, indicating hope that the novel coronavirus pandemic will have abated by then.
If, however, COVID-19 is still prevalent, another rain date will be May 28-30, 2021, the weekend following the Class of 2021’s Final Exercises.
“This year’s Final Exercises will be different in some respects from the ones we had originally planned, and had been looking forward to,” President Jim Ryan wrote in an email Friday. “But we will do everything we can to make these ceremonies a fitting end to your time at UVa. While every class at UVa is special, yours is truly unique — and these Final Exercises will be, too.”
An October date may allow students, families and area businesses time to prepare for a reappearance in Charlottesville, but university officials cautioned against making plans just yet.
“We recommend against making travel plans for October until we know more information regarding COVID-19 and the impact to the university’s fall operations,” they wrote on an FAQ page.
UVa also plans to hold a virtual ceremony on the original 2020 graduation date of May 16 to confer degrees, marking the official date of graduation and ensuring fourth-years graduate “on time,” according to Ryan’s email.
Schools and departments aim to hold their own ceremonies as well, Ryan wrote, with details to be shared online as they are worked out.
UVa already has moved the first half of its summer session, and has said it will make a decision about summer classes, events and conferences occurring after June 30 by June 1.
UVa has said it intends to be open for in-person classes in the fall, but officials are still weighing options.