Update Feb. 5, 2021 — plans for commencement to be announced March 26.

Graduation is a special moment for students and families. It serves as a culmination of each student’s hard work and dedication over their four years at college. Unfortunately, plans for an in-person commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 are currently in flux. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made hosting in-person gatherings a challenge, and Elon University will soon have to make a decision regarding a potential commencement ceremony.

Senior students will begin their final semester on Feb. 8 with the last day of the school year being May 21.

Owen Covington, university spokesman, said there is currently no timeline for making a decision regarding commencement for the class of 2021.

“Given that many restrictions related to in-person gatherings are still necessary and required, few details for this year’s commencement exercises have been finalized,” Covington said.

Jeff Stein, chair of the Ready & Resilient committee said commencement plans are underway for both the class of 2021 and the class of 2020 are still underway with the senior class officers. Right now, the university is planning for both the possibility of it happening or not. He said it would be “foolish” of them to make a decision now, but hopes to alert students and families of a decision by March.

According to Jeff Clark, the executive director of Cultural and Special Programs at Elon University, the school is following the protocols and mandates implemented by the state of North Carolina, which limit large gatherings and discourage unnecessary travel, while making this decision. This, among other factors, will guide the university in making a decision on having in-person ceremonies. 

“We will be looking at the same things that the Ready and Resilient dashboard uses — infection rate in the county and state as well as on campus,” Clark said. “We will also be watching the vaccination progress closely.”

While there is no timeline for making a final decision, Clark is confident that if the school does choose to have an in-person ceremony, families will have plenty of time to make their travel plans. 

“A decision will be made with enough time for families to arrange travel if we are able to have an in-person ceremony,” Clark said.  

Grace Briskman ‘20 was disappointed last spring when she learned her class would not be having an in-person commencement ceremony, but she understood it was likely for the best.

“I was gutted when it was official that we wouldn’t be walking to receive our diploma [in-person],” Briskman said. “It was pretty devastating that we wouldn’t get the opportunity to properly celebrate the four years I spent there.”

Briskman said she would consider coming back to Elon for an in-person ceremony honoring the class of 2020, but feels it is best to wait until such an event could be hosted with as little risk as possible.

“I would definitely consider coming back, but I think having it in the spring would be too premature with how bad the pandemic is,” Briskman said. “I think it would be better to wait until most if not all of us can be vaccinated.”