Local colleges are making plans for graduations as the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues. At the area’s community college, a virtual graduation will take place in May and the county’s only four-year college has set its sights on August for an in person ceremony.


Grayson College Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Rhea Bermel said the college “conducted a small focus group to get an idea of what they (the graduates) would like to see happen.”


She said the college also did a lot of research about what other similar schools were doing about graduation.


GC will have a virtual recognition ceremony in May but exact details about the plans were not released at this time.


At AC, President Steven P. O’Day sent a video message to seniors on Friday that announced the scheduling of graduation for the Class of 2020 as set for Aug. 9, “if the world lets us.” The college said a Saturday celebration is also planned for the 2020 graduates and their families. Other details about the commencement weekend, AC, said, are pending at this time.


“Though we cannot be together in May as originally planned, we are eager to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2020,” President O’Day said in the message.


There are 288 Bachelor of Arts degree candidates and 20 Master of Arts in Teaching degree candidates awaiting degrees as they finish out their college experience at AC via distance learning.


“Commencement is a special time that the entire Austin College community shares as a way of recognizing the remarkable achievements and diligent work of our newest graduates,” said Dean of Faculty Dr. Elizabeth Gill. “We want to create a special day for the graduates of 2020 to celebrate all that they have accomplished academically and to honor the resilience they have shown in these challenging times.”


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Jerrie Whiteley is an editor for the Herald Democrat. She can be reached at JWhiteley@HeraldDemocrat.com.