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UMaine planning for in-person graduation component for 2021, 2020 students

This will be along with a virtual ceremony. Plan still being formed.
The University of Maine says it plans to have an in person component for 2021 and 2020...
The University of Maine says it plans to have an in person component for 2021 and 2020 graduates later this spring.
Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 10:35 AM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - The University of Maine plans to have an in person component this spring for 2021 graduates and those who graduated last year...

President Joan Ferrini-Mundy released a statement to students Thursday saying a plan for what graduation will look like is still being formed and will follow state COVID-19 guidelines.

The current thinking is students will be assigned a day and time to march in person at the Collins Center for the Arts where they will be recorded walking across the stage as their names are called and receive a diploma cover.

They ask all graduates to complete a survey by April 1st for feedback on what they would like to take part in.

This will be part of an already announced virtual ceremony.

Earlier this year, graduating students submitted a petition for an in person ceremony along with a safety plan.

Ferrini-Mundy says graduates who feel comfortable are encouraged to participate.

“We did hear from the range of students with a range of perspectives on this,” she said. “The petition was, of course, very important. What we did hear was the piece of walking across the stage is something that is very important to students. There were other things as well, but we feel like we have got a way to incorporate that part now.”

The taped stage walk will be the extent of the in person graduation.

There will be no spectators.

Ferrini-Mundy says they’re hoping to have a more traditional in person ceremony for graduates in the fall.

This decision applies only for the Orono campus.

All schools will be making individual decisions on how to handle graduation.

Here is the full statement.

UMaine Commencement update — March 25

I want to begin by thanking all the University of Maine graduating students and their parents who have contacted me and members of the Commencement Committee in recent weeks to share suggestions and comments about an in-person event with spectators. That feedback ranged from frustration that a fully in-person event would not be possible to concern that any in-person gathering of any size is still unsafe in this, the second year of the pandemic.

Although the state of Maine and University of Maine System guidance for April 5–May 23 increases occupancy for indoor and outdoor gatherings, it continues to require 6-foot social distancing in recognition of the community transmission of COVID-19 that is still occurring. As such, we are not able to offer a traditional in-person commencement.

However, following all health and safety guidance, UMaine will provide an in-person component for 2021 and 2020 graduates as part of the virtual commencement. The committee has started to execute the virtual commencement/stage walk plans and we will continue to move in that direction while monitoring the guidance.

Undergraduate and graduate students who feel comfortable are encouraged to participate. Students will be assigned a day and time to march in person at the Collins Center for the Arts where they will be recorded walking across the stage as their names are called and receive a diploma cover. Commemorative photos also will be taken at that time.

The video recordings, as well as photo submissions from all graduates, will be used to produce a virtual commencement presentation that will be available in May. In addition to graduates’ images, the virtual commencement will include music and congratulatory messages.

Following all civil and University of Maine System guidance, we will schedule small groups of students to participate in the CCA stage walk. There will be no spectators, and participants will wear face coverings and maintain 6 feet of social distancing. Graduate students who wish to participate will be scheduled April 23; undergraduates will be scheduled April 26–29 and May 3.

At this time, we ask all 2021 and 2020 graduates to complete the online survey on the commencement website to help us plan the in-person stage walk and virtual recognition components. The deadline for completing the survey is April 1.

Please watch the commencement website for all updates when they become available.

We know the inability to have a traditional commencement is disappointing for all the students and their families, as well as the countless members of the university community who work to make it UMaine’s biggest and best annual event. We also recognize that this hybrid approach will disappoint some students and their families, while aligning with the expectations of what others are willing to do in this second year of the pandemic. For everyone, we look forward to creating a memorable virtual event to recognize and honor our students’ achievements until the time that we can all be together on campus again, safely.

Sincerely,

Joan Ferrini-Mundy

President

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