How did Texas State come to the decision to not hold in-person ceremonies in August?
The commencement feasibility work group, which included student representatives, faculty senators, a dean representative, the registrar, the commencement coordinator, the associate vice president for academic affairs, and the chief medical officer, searched for the safest options to hold commencement events for more than 6,000 graduates and their families and friends over three days of ceremonies. After exhausting every possible scenario, we made the hard decision that it will not be possible to hold in-person commencement ceremonies in August 2020 for spring and summer graduates while adhering to the required social distancing measures. Instead, we will share virtual commencement ceremonies on August 6, 7, and 8, 2020.
Why not hold ceremonies outside at Bobcat Stadium?
There are many challenges to holding the event outdoors in August, including extreme heat and outdoor elements. If it did rain or storm, there is no safe alternative indoor site for an event of that size that would accommodate physical distancing. Regardless of the event location, a mass gathering of individuals from Texas, across the United States, and internationally presents considerable risk to the community.
Why not hold it inside Strahan Arena and just make people social distance and wear masks?
While social distancing and wearing facemasks help to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, large gatherings increase the risk. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises against having large events and recommends canceling any event with more than 250 attendees. It would be difficult to adhere to public health guidelines and conduct commencement ceremonies for 6,000 graduates and their family and friends.
Why is it not safe to hold in-person commencement in August and OK to hold in-person classes on campuses for Summer II and for the fall semester?
When students, faculty and staff return for in-person instruction, it will be done following strict physical distancing protocols and other safety precautions that can be controlled in classroom, learning, dining, gathering and on-campus residential spaces. The process for safely returning to campus is being established through five work groups addressing a variety of issues and possible scenarios. The Commencement Feasibility Work Group, with the guidance of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Emilio Carranco, determined that the same level of environment control and physical distancing was not possible to protect graduates and their families attending an in-person commencement ceremony in Strahan Arena or Bobcat Stadium.
Texas State waited to announce that the ceremony was going to be online in August when they could have been planning for a ceremony in May during that time. Why did you wait to announce? Or, why not wait a few months to announce it later?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an evolving situation requiring frequent reassessment. Ultimately, the Commencement Feasibility Work Group determined – even in the best case scenario with COVID-19 - it would be difficult to safely manage bringing thousands of people to Strahan Arena and the greater San Marcos community. With nine commencements over three days, it was not possible to do deep cleaning and disinfecting between the ceremonies.
Since we have never done virtual commencement before, an extensive amount of planning is required. We need lead time to make the virtual commencement as meaningful as possible to graduates.
An early decision allows time for not only graduates and families to plan for their commencement celebration, but also for faculty and staff to focus on producing the most memorable options for offering a virtual commencement.
High school graduations are being held this spring and summer? Why can’t Texas State commencement ceremonies be held?
High school graduations are being held outdoors throughout Texas with strict social distancing and attendance restrictions. Most high school students and their immediate families are local and would be traveling a short distance to attend graduation. College graduations invite thousands of graduates and guests from all over Texas, the United States, and internationally. The priority for the university was the health and safety of graduates and their guests. It was determined that it would be too difficult to safely manage the large graduation ceremonies in Strahan Arena.
Can I go to Sewell Park and jump in the river since I can’t walk the stage?
Sewell Park on the San Marcos Campus remains closed until July 6, when the university will resume in-person instruction for the Summer II session.
What will our virtual ceremony in August include?
We are working on the details now and are committed to making it as memorable as possible.
Can I still order my cap and gown?
Regalia can be ordered online at https://buildagrad.com/txstate. The deadline to order regalia in time for the virtual commencement ceremonies is July 12, 2020.
Can I attend a future ceremony in December 2020 or May 2021?
Unfortunately, there are no plans at this time to allow graduates to return to campus for a future commencement.
Will I still receive my honor cords, Commencement Program, and diploma cover?
The work group is considering the distribution commencement materials to graduates and more information will be available soon.