After a year of many uncertainties, Penn State officially announced on Tuesday that they are considering an in-person Spring commencement.
University officials say they are exploring the option as the 2021 spring semester is well underway, even though in-person classes were delayed until February.
Penn State President, Eric Barron says “We need to get further into the semester and then assess conditions. We also understand that we need to make a decision as early as we can, as it takes time to organize outdoor events, and students and families need time to make plans.”
They hope to make a decision or provide further information sometime in March, but many factors will play a role in the decision, such as,
1. Vaccine distribution rates
2. Travel Restrictions
3. Local and Regional virus prevalence and conditions on campuses
4. Local, State, and Federal guidelines
As it stands right now, the Pennsylvania Department of Health does not allow outdoor gatherings of more than 2,500 people but with social distancing and mask wearing required.
And State College Borough council just extended their COVID-19 Mask and Social Distancing ordinance through the end of May.
Barron says the in-person ceremony will look very different from years past, they will likely be smaller in size and take place outdoors, throughout multiple dates extending beyond the length of a normal graduation weekend.
As a backup option, the University will still plan for a fully virtual ceremony as well.
Penn State holds a weekly meeting with pandemic task force members who discuss topics like this, they have one schedule for tomorrow, but it is unclear if graduation will be discussed.