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Arizona universities cancel commencement ceremonies due to coronavirus spread

Students graduating from Arizona State University and University of Arizona this spring will not be able to participate in an in-person commencement ceremony.

PHOENIX — Students who are graduating from Arizona State University and University of Arizona this spring will not be able to participate in an in-person commencement ceremony.

In a statement on Thursday, Arizona State University President Michael Crow said its spring commencement would "move to a virtual, online ceremony" due to the spread of the coronavirus. 

"As we all have experienced over the last several weeks, technology-enabled engagement presents an extraordinary opportunity to come together. And as our undergraduate and graduate students know from what they have accomplished, adaptation and perseverance are part of what the university experience is all about," the statement continued.

"Obviously, this means a departure from our traditions. But reimagining ASU’s commencement ceremonies does not mean cancelling them. Sun Devil Nation is going to celebrate. We will continue in the spirit that drove us earlier in the semester when classes were moved to an online format. We will continue to advance."

Students would be able to participate in ceremonies in December 2020 or May 2021. 

You can read the full statement here

University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said in a statement that the convocations and commencement "cannot take place in-person as originally scheduled" in May. 

That includes all celebrations and convocations in Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma and Sierra Vista.

"The health and safety of our students, families, friends and communities must come first," part of the statement read. 

"My biggest regret for the Class of 2020 is that you didn't get to enjoy these final weeks of being a student and your final celebration with your classmates."

There are 8,088 undergraduates, 2,219 master's students, 1,036 doctoral students, 521 professional degree students and 249 certificate earners set to graduate in May. 

There will be an alternate graduation experience scheduled for students. Updates will be available at commencement.arizona.edu starting March 27.

Students can also participate in a future convocation and commencement ceremony, either in December 2020 or May 2021.

The university has already moved all classes online for the remainder of the school year in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, Grand Canyon University postponed commencement ceremonies that were scheduled for April 24.

The college is taking feedback from students about pushing the ceremony to December, possibly during a GCU basketball game.

“We realize the on-campus experience has come to an abrupt end this week for many graduating seniors,” the college said. “We hope the December event provides an opportunity to reunite with their classmates and celebrate their accomplishments at commencement among family and friends.”

Maricopa County Community College District canceled its in-person commencement and convocation ceremonies scheduled for April and May 2020 due to the coronavirus.
 
“We are as disappointed as you with this development,” Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Interim Chancellor, said in a statement. 

“Commencements and the surrounding celebrations are the best events of our year, so it was not an easy decision to make, but we must put health and safety first, adhering to the direction state and local governments have given.”
 
Northern Arizona University still has its ceremonies scheduled for May. 

COVID-19 is believed to be primarily spread through coughs or sneezes. 

It may be possible for the virus to spread by touching a surface or object with the virus and then a person touching their mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main method of spread, the CDC says. 

You should consult your doctor if you traveled to an area currently affected by COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing. 

There is no vaccine for the coronavirus, so the best way to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases is to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

You can text FACTS to 602-444-1212 to receive more information on the coronavirus and to ask questions.