NAU joins GCU and UArizona in cancelling spring commencements due to coronavirus outbreak

Universities in Arizona have announced changes to their graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Northern Arizona University

According to Carly Banks with Northern Arizona University on March 20, all events are cancelled through April 30.

"We are evaluating options for celebrating the achievements of our graduating seniors and graduate students, and will soon share plans for commencement," Banks wrote at the time.

On Tuesday, NAU officials announced that the Spring 2020 commencement has been cancelled.

Universit of Arizona

All University of Arizona in-person convocation and commencement ceremonies have been cancelled, according to a press release from UArizona president Robert Robbins. 

"The health and safety of our students, families, friends and communities must come first," read the statement. "And we have determined that the University of Arizona 2020 Convocations and Commencement cannot take place in-person as originally scheduled in May 2020."

The cancellations apply to all graduation events in Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma and Sierra Vista.

The university says it is planning to offer an "alternate graduation experience," with more details to come on March 27. Graduates can also participate in future Dec. 2020 or May 2021 commencement ceremonies, according to the statement - however, this is also contingent on the school's evaluation of the outbreak in the future.

Grand Canyon University

FOX 10 has learned that officials with Grand Canyon University have postponed their April 24 commencement ceremony for traditional students, as well as their April 30 and May 1 commencement ceremonies for online students.

"We are currently seeking student feedback to determine when those will be rescheduled," wrote Bob Romantic, Executive Director of the Office of Communications and Public Relations with Grand Canyon University.

Romantic said they are considering options, one of which is to hold a combined commencement ceremony, possibly during a weekend in December, with reunion-type events to allow students to get together once again and celebrate their accomplishments.

Arizona State University

According to Jerry Gonzalez with Arizona State University, officials have yet to make a decision about their commencement ceremonies.

College seniors feel impact

The decision by UArizona to cancel commencement ceremonies means for this semester's graduating class, their chapter of life as a college student is essentially over.

"We went to the bookstore today and they didn’t have anything, so it’s hard to even get those symbolic things that we aren't getting," said Shelby Hardy, a senior at UArizona. She did not even have her cap and gown for the occasion that is now cancelled.

While ASU has yet to make any decision, Hope Denslow believes the school will follow suit.

"I try to remain positive, but I doubt, you know, we may not -- there's how many thousands of students that are gonna walk across that stage? Nobody wants to put anybody at risk.," said Denslow.

Besides not having a commencement ceremony, college seniors this year are also stepping out to an uncertain world.

"We’re going out into a world where we don’t know if there’s jobs to be had," said Hardy. "We don’t know if we’re gonna -- I wanna go into event planning industry, and right now that’s struggling because you can’t be in event space."

Additional resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index-sp.html (In Spanish/En Español)