The Austin College Class of 2020 will need to wait a little longer to walk across the stage and receive their degrees. The college announced Wednesday that it will be delaying its 2020 commencement a second time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this spring, the college announced that it would be delaying its in-person commencement, which was scheduled to take place on May 17, and rescheduling it for Aug 9. However, the ceremony is being delayed a second time amid increasing cases of the virus across Texas.
"The college’s senior leadership reached this difficult decision after extensive deliberation and diligent monitoring of public health data and recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic," AC President Steven O’Day said Tuesday in a news release. "We had to accept that holding Commencement weekend in August is neither feasible nor wise."
The annual commencement ceremony usually brings around 4,000 to the Sherman campus. However, due to mandated reductions, the college was planning to limit attendance to four guests per student.
However, this would still equate to about 1,700 people, with the majority coming from outside Texoma.
"Ultimately, this decision is made to help ensure the health and safety of our graduates, their families, and our campus community," O’Day said. "We are very disappointed not to be able to celebrate with our 2020 graduates. The staff and faculty of the college are very proud of their accomplishments, and we want the opportunity to applaud them."
AC was among many colleges and high schools across the country that chose to delay, cancel or hold their commencement ceremonies virtually this spring due to the pandemic. Both Sherman and Denison Independent School District delayed their ceremonies until June when they could be held with social distancing practices in place.
Grayson College elected to instead release a series of video celebrations for its graduating class this spring in lieu of an in person ceremony.
The college is still exploring its options regarding holding a ceremony, and has polled the graduating class regarding possible dates for the ceremony.
AC Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Lynn Womble said the college is also exploring alternative ideas for this year’s commencement, including holding an indoor or outdoor ceremony, a virtual commencement, or a hybrid of in-person and online. Alternative locations, including venues that would allow social distancing are alos being explored, she said.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.