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Family members of soon to be UTC alumni sit atop the hill looking over Chamberlain Field. Due to COVID-19, UTC announced five socially distanced and outdoor graduation ceremonies for the May, Summer and December 2020 graduates. Saturday, November 21, 2020. (Photo by Stephanie Swart)

Photo by Stephanie Swart

By Regina Baker, Assistant News Editor-

The UTC spring 2021 graduates will experience a ceremony that has never been done before. 

Graduations will be held from April 21 through April 25, with the ceremonies planned for different times to fit varying schedules. 

Due to the Covid pandemic, the University has taken precautions in the preparation and ceremony of graduation. Graduates should expect changes in the platform party of faculty and the attendance of family members. 

With the ceremony being held in McKenzie Arena, faculty planners were still able to allow students to invite family members to attend. The arena gives the available space to social distance all students and attendees. 

Family members that have been invited must arrive at the ceremony 45 minutes early to claim their seats. 

The mask mandate will stay in place for the entirety of the event so attendees are safe, and there are new protocols put in place to ensure student and faculty safety.

Director of University Events, Laura Cagle spoke on her experience with planning the new ceremony. 

“Everything is taking time because this is like any other ceremony we have ever done,” Cagle said. “We are double-checking everything and following all procedures.”

In this semester’s ceremony, the faculty will perform their processional and the students will find their own seats. The University has decided to eliminate students standing together to limit contact.  

The graduates will walk across the stage. Procedures prohibit shaking hands with the Chancellor but the University will be taking photos at an angle of the stage. 

Dr. Charlene Simmons, a UC Foundation Association professor, ensured the ways the University is working to maintain safety for all attendees.

“Students and family members will be able to sit together, but areas will be roped off in the arena to enforce social distancing,” Simmons said.

Students and attendees will be limited on taking pictures after the ceremonies and will prohibit what items may be brought into the arena. 

More information involving commencement ceremonies can be found here.

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