USM cancels commencement ceremonies
Special to Long Beach Breeze
The University of Southern Mississippi recently announced that USM will not be able to host Commencement ceremonies that were tentatively rescheduled for August, citing public health officials’ significant concern for spikes in cases of COVID-19 across the state and strongly advising against large gatherings.
In an official statement, the university said, “We understand that Commencement is among the most treasured traditions for our graduating students and their families, and we remain committed to welcoming all Class of 2020 graduates as participants in the next Commencement ceremonies we are able to host in person. Specific information regarding next steps has been sent to graduates via email and may be accessed online.”
“We extend our sincere apologies to our Class of 2020, and we share in the disappointment of this difficult decision, but we are concerned about the elevated risk associated with the size of our graduating class and guests gathering in one location.”
The university said that the difficulty in predicting the status of evolving public health guidelines may result in changes to plans for Commencement ceremonies currently scheduled for December, as well. University officials are continuing to monitor all applicable public health guidance and will communicate a final decision regarding December ceremonies by September 15.
The USM Fall 2020 academic calendar has been condensed to minimize student travel to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.
The new calendar calls for classes to begin on Monday, August 17.
The two days formerly scheduled as fall break will be regular class meeting days.
The last day of instruction for the semester will be Monday, November 23, followed by a reading day on Tuesday, November 24.
Final exams will be held online the week of November 30 for the majority of classes.
The modified fall calendar is one part of a comprehensive strategy the University is developing and implementing to help ensure a successful academic year for students, faculty and staff. Additional health protocols and procedures will be implemented in the fall, following ongoing consultation with public health officials and forthcoming guidance from the IHL Safe Start Task Force.