Davis & Elkins College today announced plans for an in-person commencement with COVID restrictions in place. Set for Saturday, May 8 in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium, the ceremonies will take place in three separate sessions divided by academic programs.

In an announcement to the campus community, D&E President Chris A. Wood said the decision was based on the combination of decreasing cases of COVID-19 and the rapid rollout of vaccines. Earlier this year, College administrators made a tentative plan for a virtual ceremony with a promise for a re-evaluation on April 1.

However, Wood emphasized the commitment to keeping the ceremonies safe and called on the campus community to uphold their responsibilities in following protocols.

To allow for necessary social distancing, each graduate will be limited to two invited guests. Ticketed seating will be assigned so that students and their guests will be seated together in a pod and all pods will be distanced. Masks are mandatory for everyone on the D&E campus throughout the commencement proceedings. Additional air filtration is being installed in the auditorium.

“I ask for your full cooperation and understanding to ensure we can offer a safe ceremony for graduates, faculty, staff and guests,” Wood said in the announcement. “Please be advised that in the event of unforeseen circumstances, including a significant spike in community and/or campus spread of the virus, Davis & Elkins College reserves the right to modify Commencement plans so as to ensure the safety of both the community and the campus.”

The traditions of the Baccalaureate Service in which students are hooded by a faculty or staff member of choice will be pre-recorded individually and displayed on a large screen as the student crosses the stage to receive his or her diploma.

All ceremonies will be live-streamed to allow additional family members and friends to join in the celebration. Links for viewing will be available closer to the date of the ceremonies.