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Utah universities cancel, postpone graduation ceremonies amid pandemic

Students listen during Salt Lake Community College’s commencement ceremony at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, May 6, 2016.
Students listen during Salt Lake Community College’s commencement ceremony at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, May 6, 2016.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — All Utah public colleges and universities will either postpone or cancel their spring 2020 commencement ceremonies, according to an announcement Wednesday by the Utah System of Higher Education.

“To protect the health of Utah communities, Gov. Gary Herbert and the state’s COVID-19 Community Task Force have recommended limiting the size of group gatherings and to continue practicing social distancing. These changes to Spring 2020 commencement activities are in line with those recommendations,” the statement said.

Statements released by each institution indicate that Utah State University has canceled its ceremonies but anticipates honoring its graduates “at a later date.”

The University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College said they have postponed commencement activities.

“We are working to determine when and how rescheduled events will take place and will provide more information as soon as possible,” said a letter to the campus community signed by the U.’s academic leaders.

SLCC, meanwhile, remains “hopeful that we can just postpone the event and celebrate later in early summer but will be evaluating a number of options as more information becomes available,” according to a statement.

Weber State University, according to its website, has called off its planned graduation celebration but it has “begun looking for a date — after the current public health crisis passes — when we can gather in person, preferably, but virtually if necessary, to acknowledge the accomplishments of the Class of 2020. The university will announce the date and details as soon as possible.”

Utah Valley University has announced it will postpone its 2020 commencement ceremonies originally scheduled for April 30 and May 1. “A new date will be announced shortly. We hope that our graduates and their families will join us then to celebrate their academic success. Planning is underway and we will provide additional details when confirmed.”

According to a letter to Southern Utah University’s community from President Scott Wyatt, “the Utah System of Higher Education is requiring all public colleges and universities to postpone their commencement and graduation events scheduled for this spring. ... We wish the circumstances were different but this is obviously out of our hands.”

SUU is working to find other options for alternative commencement plans, the letter states.

Meanwhile, Dixie State University announced it will also cancel its commencement exercises.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and work to create a plan that will both honor our graduates and keep them safe. We will share the details as they become available,” according to a statement on Dixie State University’s website.

Snow College will postpone or cancel commencement on its Ephraim and Richfield campuses. “The Emergency Operations Team is exploring options and a final announcement will be made on or before April 1,” said a statement on the college website.