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NOV. 20: Dr. McPhee reminds graduates, guests of commencement safety protocols

As we near our Thanksgiving break and the end of classes for the Fall 2020 semester, I wanted to take a moment to thank each of you again for your dedication and commitment to keeping our campus safe. While it is impossible to fully escape the impact from COVID-19, your actions enabled us to provide a significant portion of our classes in-person and made our campus one of the safest in the state.

To those of you who will be graduating this semester, a heartfelt congratulations! No one could have predicted when you arrived on campus that 2020 would have been such a challenging year. Yet you found a way to succeed – through hard work, perseverance and an attitude that your weren’t going to let the virus take something this important away from you – you demonstrated your true character and resolve. I have no doubt the challenges we faced this past year will ultimately serve you well, as you certainly know how to succeed!  Congratulations and best wishes to each of you in the years ahead. You are truly amazing!

While our campus has managed to avoid much of the impact of the coronavirus, the same cannot be said for many of our surrounding communities, as infection rates continue to climb across much of the mid-state. As we look forward to Saturday’s commencement and the last days of the semester, I do want to remind you that we still need to adhere to our campus expectations and COVID-19 safeguards. I also want you to know that I have been in consultation with officials from Governor Lee’s COVID-19 Unified Command Group and Dr. Lisa Piercey, the state’s health commissioner, to review our preparations for commencement. They concurred with our strategy to move forward under our safety protocols, which include:

  • Masks must be worn at all times by our graduates, faculty, family members and guests. The only exception is during the brief recognition of each graduate (they will be permitted to briefly remove their mask during their introduction);
  • Attendance is limited and ticketed and each graduate has been assigned to one of three ceremonies. No walk-up entry without tickets will be allowed.
  • While family members may sit together, appropriate social distancing must be maintained between groups. Please follow seating instructions in the stadium;
  • For our graduates, seating has been assigned to provide appropriate social distancing. Please do not rearrange seating;
  • Once the ceremony has concluded, attendees will be directed on when to exit the stadium. Graduates will exit first, then the audience;
  • If you have family members who are elderly or part of an at-risk population, we would strongly encourage them to participate in our events remotely. True Blue TV’s broadcast can be viewed on:

As a reminder to all our students, we have less than a week before last day of classes on Wednesday (Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving). We will have study days from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, with no classes, exams or mandatory meetings. Finals will be delivered online from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10.

Again, thank you for all your efforts these past few months, you have been truly extraordinary!

Best wishes for the holiday season!

Sidney A. McPhee


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