HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University (JMU), which moved all classes online more than a month ago, has announced a new date for their spring commencement ceremony.
The university is planning on-campus commencement ceremonies from August 7-8.
According to a letter from JMU President Jonathan Alger, they have been paying special attention to the 2020 graduating class.
So, after reviewing the ongoing status of the COVID-19 outbreak in Virginia, the university has decided to hold online commencement activities on May 8 and then an in-person ceremony in August.
If public health conditions allow, dependent on people continuing to follow social distancing and CDC guidelines to flatten the curve of new coronavirus cases, students, their families, friends, and loved ones will be invited to Harrisonburg in early August for a series of special events on campus and in downtown Harrisonburg from August 6-7, culminating with commencement ceremonies on August 7 and 8.
Alger said he and his administration are working on the exact details but will send communication to seniors with an RSVP for the events in the near future.
If health and safety reasons prevent an August gathering too, the events will again be postponed to a later date.
In the meantime, the class of 2020 will become official JMU graduates on May 8.
Degrees will be conferred on that date, and the university will host a virtual conferring of degrees, where students will be able to gather online with friends and family to hear congratulations from Alger, their student speaker, and be formally presented as the graduating class.
Online events and social media events will lead up to the online ceremony.
Alger recommends students who already bought caps and gowns practice turning their tassels during the online event for the in-person event in August. For others, the JMU Bookstore is offering free shipping.
"While we don’t have all the details ironed out, I ask that you hold the dates noted above and be on the lookout for more information from us," Alger said. "Additionally, we are looking at ways to engage with you this fall, such as special Homecoming and other events for this year’s graduating class."
The university initially announced on March 11 that they would be extending spring break through March 23 and then moving classes online through at least April 5. Then, as the situation developed, they moved classes online for the rest of the semester on March 18.
When the initial announcement was made, Virginia had fewer than 20 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Now, the commonwealth has more than 6,000.
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