SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — The graduation ceremony for 2020’s spring graduates, which were postponed until Aug. 1, will not be an in-person affair. Graduates told 7News Tuesday they received the news via email on Monday.
The announcement came after the university sent out an email to graduating seniors earlier this year which asked for their preferred method of graduation.
“When we sent the survey out, we simply could not project what the summer would look like and how quickly the numbers might increase or decrease in terms of COVID-19 cases,” Jessica Blais, the university’s associate vice chancellor of strategic communications and marketing, said. “Unfortunately, we’re just not in a position where we could commit to doing an in-person ceremony.”
Blais said commencement normally brings a crowd of 10,000 people to the quad, a large grassy field behind the school’s administration building. That crowd size by far exceeds the CDC’s current guidance of 250 people.
“There really wasn’t any way that we could spread out enough to accommodate the numbers of people who would have loved to have been there,” Blais said.
The university will use a program called MarchingOrder, which it hopes will come as close as possible to an in-person experience.
The announcement of a virtual commencement ceremony was frustrating for graduates like Kacie Manning.
“I had very high hopes for that commencement ceremony,” she said. “There were very long nights that I spent in the library with that in mind as my finish goal. That was my finish line. Not having that is heartbreaking.”