Nicole Dossa (Left) and Kathryn Lynn Vonn Bargen hug during undergraduate commencement ceremonies in 2019. Photo by Ben Siegel / Courtesy Ohio University.

By Ben Peters

Athens NEWS Associate Editor

Ohio University announced last week it’s preparing to proceed with a virtual commencement ceremony for spring 2021 graduates since state public health orders still prohibit mass gatherings amid the pandemic.

The university said it could still amend plans for the event should the state make “substantial” changes to its guidelines for gatherings, according to a news release.

“We understand that this news is disappointing for our spring graduates and their families,” Ohio University President Duane Nellis said in a statement. “Commencement is the most important day in the life of a college student. It is a culmination of their hard work and dedication to reach an important milestone, an effort that has only been made more challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Ohio University Office of Conference and Event Services is expected to contact spring graduates in the coming weeks with more information on how to have their name and photo included in a virtual ceremony.

Commencement for Fall 2020 graduates was held remotely, while spring 2020 graduates, whose semester was upended after they were sent home at the start of the pandemic, were asked to respond to a survey with their preferences for a future commencement ceremony.

The class ultimately voted to postpone the ceremony until it’s deemed safe and legal to hold an in-person event.

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