SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Southern Maine Community College is cancelling its traditional in-person commencement and planning a virtual graduation ceremony in its place because of health and safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the virus and the need to protect public health, it has become clear that SMCC won’t be able to hold its graduation ceremony as scheduled on May 17, SMCC President Joe Cassidy said Thursday.
“This is very disappointing because commencement is such an important and inspiring milestone for graduates, their families and the SMCC community,” Cassidy said. “But the health and safety of students, employees, family members and others who would want to attend commencement is the top priority, and we simply can’t bring together people to celebrate at this time.”
In place of the in-person commencement, the school is planning to hold a virtual ceremony online. According to SMCC, a virtual graduation committee has been formed and students will be notified when the date and details are worked out.
SMCC's announcement comes just days after the University of Maine announced it is canceling in-person commencement as well. Campus leaders at UMaine will be reaching out to students, faculty, and staff to coordinate planning of alternative commencement celebrations. Plans are expected to be in place by the middle of April.