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WVUP changes graduation location

PARKERSBURG — West Virginia University at Parkersburg has changed the location of its in-person graduation ceremony in May as plans are continually being updated to be able to hold the event.

On Wednesday, College President Chris Gilmer informed the university Board of Governors the socially-distanced outdoor commencement will be held at 2 p.m. May 8 on the back lawn of the Parkersburg campus.

Thursday, university officials changed the location to the upper parking lot by the College Activities Center.

Torie Jackson, vice president for institutional advancement, said the change was to create more space so people could have more room to social distance.

Much of the plans remain tentative as officials are still reviewing the details, Jackson said.

Graduates will have to be 6 feet apart. Each graduate will be given four tickets for family to attend. Families will be seated in “pods” together that are 6 feet apart from the other family pods.

“The families will be able to sit together and not sit 6 feet apart from each other,” she said.

Everyone attending will be required to wear facemasks. The only people who will not be wearing masks will be the speakers at the podium who will be able to take off their masks then to deliver their speech.

In case of inclement weather, the event will be postponed until 2 p.m. May 15. Gilmer said if weather becomes an issue, the ceremony will not be moved indoors.

The university is planning to award 343 degrees, including 110 bachelor’s and 233 associate/certificates to around 300 students.

At this point, there are 123 ceremony participants, including 12 from 2020.

The university canceled the May 2020 commencement and moved the December 2020 commencement to an innovative series of individual events, Gilmer had said.

Having this ceremony in person is a step to try to return to some normalcy, Gilmer had said. Many other colleges and universities nationwide are planning similar events including West Virginia University, he said.

WVUP is reserving the right to make any changes to current plans which guidelines from public health or other local, state, or federal authorities require, with as much advance notice to participants as possible, Gilmer said.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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