COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Schools in Missouri plan to hold in-person commencement ceremonies this year while following COVID-19-related limitations and restrictions for the class of 2021.
The University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College each plan to hold graduation events in-person this spring after the pandemic pushed those events into the summer or online entirely last year.
High schools are also planning in-person ceremonies and proms, including Columbia Public Schools and the Jefferson City School District. Last week the North Callaway School District relaxed its restrictions on capacity at events, saying events will now be held with 80% of capacity.
Columbia Public Schools notified families and students about a month ago about graduation plans.
The graduations for Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools will be held at Mizzou Arena. The commencement for Douglass High School students will be held at the Missouri Theatre.
The commencement ceremonies for MU will be held at the Hearnes Center and the Mizzou Arena. Graduates of MU and their guests must wear face coverings at all times and remain socially distanced from other parties.
Each graduate and their guests will be assigned a group of six seats in a specific pod. The pods will be socially distanced throughout the event arenas.
MU will be following their Show Me Renewal Covid safety conditions, and encourage all guests to review the guidelines before attending commencement.
Sarah Diedrich, a spokeswoman for MU said students, faculty, and families could not be more excited to have an in-person ceremony this year.
"We are thrilled to be able to offer in-person commencement this spring for our 2020 graduates and our May and August 2021 graduates as well," Diedrich said.
Columbia College will hold its commencement ceremony in the Mizzou Arena and will follow the MU Covid-19 limitations.
CPS is working with the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services to finalize its plans and safety protocols for the ceremonies. CPS will be following all the protocols and guidelines the university has in place such as wearing masks at all times, limited event size limits, and socially distanced setups.
Graduations are just some of the annual events that were canceled last year but are back on this year as coronavirus case rates fall and vaccination rates continue to creep higher. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports new confirmed cases fell 13.1% over the last week. Missouri is No. 25 among the states for most new cases per 100,000 people over the last week.
Nearly 35% of Missouri residents have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, with about 24% having completed their vaccination process.
Megan McConachie, the strategic communications manager at the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this weekend will be a big help to the tourism industry in Columbia, which is still feeling the negative effects from last year.
"We will have three busy weekends which means lots of people in our hotels, more people in our restaurants, and more people in our community in general," McConachie said.
Mizzou will hold its class of 2020 commencement ceremony this weekend, on Sunday.