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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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COVID-19 Update: Knox addresses commencement plans

COVID-19+Update%3A+Knox+addresses+commencement+plans

In the form of letters addressed to the Classes of 2020 and 2021, President Teresa Amott  provided an update this Thursday on the school’s plans for Commencement at the end of the school year.

When last year’s Commencement ceremony was delayed, the school’s original plan was to hold separate commencements for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 this year. Based on the current situation, Knox believes it will be able to bring the Class of 2021 together for a modified in-person ceremony, but is less certain of how it will honor the Class of 2020.

Addressing the Class of 2020, Amott acknowledged that when the class’s commencement was delayed, Knox did not anticipate the extent to which the country would still be grappling with COVID-19 a year later.

In light of Knox’s uncertainty about its ability to bring recent graduates back to Knox from across the country, the school plans to send a survey out to 2020 graduates to get their views about the form they want their commencement to take.

Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich explained that a June commencement for Class of 2020 would be logistically challenging and likely require the participating alumni to quarantine for several days — but if the graduates expressed significant interest in a June ceremony, the school could make an attempt to have it happen. 

“We don’t know if they even want that. And maybe they don’t feel safe traveling,” Ehrlich said. 

A possible alternative to the June date would be to instead have the ceremony coincide with Homecoming in October, by which point more of the population should be vaccinated. 

In regards to the Class of 2021, the school states that no decision has been finalized, but it believes it should be possible to hold an in-person ceremony with social-distancing measures — given most of the Class of 2021 will be on campus until June following the same COVID protocols. 

“I really want to give everybody a commencement that’s in a person. For [the Class of 2021] that’s easy. We can put you all outside or in the Fieldhouse, six feet apart, and have you walk across the stage and get your diploma,“ Ehrlich said. 

However, the school is less confident in whether it will be possible for students’ family and friends to come to campus for the ceremony. Ehrlich noted that it is not out of the question that visitors could be allowed if the vaccine rollout is fast enough, but still echoed the same caution that Amott expressed in her letter. 

“If you had families that had to buy plane tickets right now, I would say don’t do it. I think it’s less likely than likely,” Ehrlich said.

Knox’s commencement update comes as most students have been back on campus for at least a week. Knox conducted 779 COVID last week as students’ return, none of which returned a positive result. In the second round of testing this week, one student’s result changed to positive – which Ehrlich noted as an example of the importance of retesting. Ehrlich considered the low number of cases — as well as the faster results provided by the saliva tests — a positive sign for the school’s ability to handle COVID going forward. 

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