It's January but if you or someone you know is graduating from high school or college this spring you're probably wondering if you'll be able to attend a commencement ceremony. While school officials in the Yakima Valley haven't yet made a decision officials at Central Washington University have decided to cancel an in-person ceremony and hold Commencement 2021 virtually. The virtual commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 12.
Central Washington University officials made the announcement online Wednesday in a letter to students; .

"We would like to thank you for your patience and understanding as we considered all options for Commencement 2021. We know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting a decision regarding the modality of our ceremonies this year. As you know, our priority has always been to ensure the health and well-being of our graduates, their loved ones, and the greater CWU community. We want to make certain that we are responsible in our decision-making and also that we give everyone an equal opportunity to participate in this momentous occasion, from near or far. With guidance from state health officials and other universities across the country, we have decided that Commencement 2021 will be held virtually.

We do not take these decisions lightly. We, too, feel very saddened by our current circumstances and how they are impacting our students, faculty and staff, and the greater community. Commencement is one of the highlights of the year for everyone at CWU.

Our Commencement exercises bring thousands of guests from all 50 states and several countries each year. While we have a promising path forward with the introduction of the vaccine, we know that it will not be readily available to all by the time of our events. We feel that having so many people in close proximity would put our community at risk and remaining virtual is the only responsible decision that we could make at this time.

We will be hosting a Virtual Commencement address on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

This will include:

    Five ceremonies, divided by college (College of Arts and Humanities, College of Business, College of Education and Professional Studies, College of Graduate Studies and Research, and College of the Sciences), where all graduate names will be read and displayed during each ceremony. Every student will have a customized slide and will be able to upload photos, videos and congratulatory messages, which will be displayed on Commencement day. These slides will also be shareable to a wide variety of social media platforms. Further information regarding this process will be distributed later this spring.
    All graduates will receive their diploma cover, copies of the 2021 Commencement book and a gift from Commencement in the mail.

CWU is extremely proud of all of our graduates. Please know that we have done everything in our power to preserve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our graduates and their families. We want everyone in the Wildcat family to understand that our decision, while difficult, represents the best course of action as we seek to protect everyone in our community. In the end, we have to do what makes the most sense for CWU. And as the public health situation continues, the most responsible decision is to remain virtual in our celebrations.

Up-to-date information will always be posted on the CWU Commencement website (www.cwu.edu/commencement) and currently hosts a wide variety of FAQs regarding this year’s processes.

We would like to thank our graduates for their many contributions during their time at CWU. We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors!"

Central is one of the first schools in the state to announce a virtual commencement ceremony for the spring. Other schools in the Valley in the state will soon make decisions that could be influenced by what larger schools are planning for graduating seniors.