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Virginia cancels community colleges' May commencements

Virginia cancels community colleges' May commencements

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CVCC graduation file

CVCC graduate Jeffrey Jones waves to family and friends during graduation at the Vines Center on Thursday, May 10, 2018 in Lynchburg, Va. 

Virginia community colleges’ May commencements have been canceled or postponed in response to COVID-19, according to a March 17 announcement from the Virginia Community College System.

With guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and in consultation with college presidents, VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois decided to cancel/postpone the ceremonies for the 23 colleges.

“The most recent CDC guidance calls for avoiding gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks, meaning our commencement ceremony season,” DuBois wrote in a March 17 blog. “I’ve consulted with our college presidents and please know that we do not take this step lightly.”

Dubois said the Class of 2020 graduates will be celebrated at a later date.

Graduation for Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg was set for May 14, and officials said they are discussing plans to reschedule the ceremony for later this summer.

CVCC President John Capps said administrators are disappointed, but the postponement of the ceremony will not affect students’ ability to earn their degrees and certificates, provided they complete their requirements.

“... We must do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of the college community and the community-at-large,” Capps said in a news release.

Piedmont Virginia Community College, which moved most classes to online or remote instruction March 18, also expressed disappointment.

“Commencement is a time of celebration. At the ceremony we recognize and congratulate our amazing students for their educational success. It breaks my heart that we have to cancel or postpone this event. But not having an event in no way detracts from the accomplishments of these graduates. I encourage families, in small gatherings, to honor their graduates and celebrate their achievement,” PVCC President Frank Friedman said in a news release.

Jamey Cross covers education. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

Jamey Cross covers education. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

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