The Ohio State University announced today that it plans to host a modified in-person spring commencement for graduates in what will be the first non-virtual commencement since late 2019.

“We are partnering with state and local health officials on a plan to provide our students and their families with the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments safely in person,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson.

While the university is working to maintain many of Ohio State’s proud traditions, health and safety guidelines mean that certain elements will need to change. The university will make adjustments to provide a memorable celebration at Ohio Stadium that is safe and healthy, including no more than 13,500 attendees in each of two commencement ceremonies to allow for physical distancing.

  • Two guests can accompany each graduate, and a livestream will be available for those who can’t watch in person. Each pod of three, including the masked graduate, family and/or friends, will be separated by 6 feet from others.
  • All ticketing will be digital to minimize close interaction, and seating and timed gate entry will be designated ahead of time.
  • Six-feet distance dots will be placed outside of each Ohio Stadium gate, and graduates and guests must enter together.
  • Graduates will receive diplomas on their way into the stadium via assigned times.
  • Spacing limitations mean a small number of graduates and their guests will be seated on the field along with college leaders.

Students, families overwhelmingly support in-person commencement

A survey conducted by the Office of Student Life found an overwhelming amount of support for an in-person commencement among 2021 graduates, with 86.2% of the 4,245 respondents in favor. Those who favor in-person commencement said they and their families have been looking forward to the opportunity.

“I’m especially excited for this opportunity for our first-generation graduates, who noted the special importance of commencement,” Johnson said. “The health and safety of Buckeye Nation remain our top priority, and we will continue to work in partnership with health officials to make safe choices to celebrate our students’ collegiate accomplishments.”

The last in-person commencement held at Ohio State was on Dec. 15, 2019, when U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown delivered an address to about 3,600 graduates at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Commencement has since been held virtually as part of the university’s Safe and Healthy Buckeyes pandemic mitigation efforts.

Plan to honor 2020 graduates

The university celebrated Ohio State’s spring, summer and autumn 2020 graduates in virtual commencement ceremonies, and committed to celebrating the Class of 2020 in person when it is safe. Ohio State will recognize these students later this year as part of the Aug. 8 commencement. This commencement, typically held at the Schottenstein Center, will be moved to Ohio Stadium to help ensure a safe and healthy experience.

Academic leadership will work with individual colleges and units on their unique commencement-related activities to ensure they follow safe and healthy guidelines. More information on logistics, ticketing and other parameters for 2021 and 2020 graduates will be shared with the community as the May 9 commencement date nears.

Source: OSU

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