The University of Delaware announced today that it is moving is Commencement and Convocation ceremonies for the class of 2020 to the spring of next year.
In a letter to students and families shared this afternoon, UD President Dennis Assanis said that the uncertainty of the growing Covid-19 pandemic and the expanded of quarantine restrictions left few viable options for Commencement activities to take place this summer.
Families have been asked to hold June 2 – 4, 2021 as dates the graduation of this year’s seniors, pending resolution of the pandemic. Activities would immediately precede alumni weekend.
In his letter, Assanis stated, “As we have continued to closely monitor the pandemic and the uncertainty ahead, we have decided to postpone Commencement and Convocation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 until the spring of 2021.”
He added, “I speak on behalf of the entire University faculty, staff and administration when I say how much we were hoping to reschedule our in-person graduation events for later this year… Regrettably, we have now come to the realization that it will not be feasible with current state guidelines and public health guidance pertaining to large gatherings.”
One major logistical hurdle was the fact that seniors who reside in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states who returned to Delaware for the graduation would have to quarantine at home following their in-person visit to Newark. Governors of those states recently signed executive orders requiring individuals traveling from Delaware to quarantine for 14 days. (Pennsylvania has issued a recommendation calling for quarantining Delaware travelers.)
With graduates, families, friends, faculty, staff and administrators, Assanis said a typical UD Commencement would attract some 20,000 people — well more than the 250 currently allowed (500 with an approved waiver) for in-person, outdoor gatherings in Delaware. Even the smallest Convocations involve more than 250 people, said Assanis.
Administrators assessed timing, venue/space access, production logistics and necessary adherence to health and safety protocols and regulations before deciding to postpone the event.
The recent surge in cases in Delaware and neighboring states also played into the school’s decision. “Scheduling an event at this order of magnitude right now would be neither responsible nor allowable with the restrictions on travel and the size of gatherings… With crowds to gather, photos to capture and warm moments to celebrate, we would not want a UD Commencement to fall short of the meaningful and memorable experience it deserves to be,” he said.