COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The University of Missouri started its first of many 2021 graduations Friday with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
MU is honoring 5,547 students with more than 6,115 degrees through a series of in-person, socially distanced ceremonies.
Graduates and their guests must wear face coverings at all times and keep their distance from other parties. Each graduate can have six guests in a socially distanced pod. Each ticket will be printed with the date, time, location, name of the ceremony, section, row and seat number.
For safety reasons, no stage will be used, allowing social distancing among the platform party. Graduates will not be allowed to shake hands with any staff when walking. However, if graduates receive a diploma cover, students can pick them up from a table.
Even with the restrictions, MU graduate McKenzie Wright said she is so grateful for the opportunity to walk in-person with her friends by her side.
"Just to be able to see each other and to celebrate each other and to be able to woo for each other in-person it was…it meant the world," Wright said.
Stephanie Fleming, the assistant director for the MU News Bureau said the goal was to allow graduates to celebrate safely in-person with their families.
"We provided face coverings for those who maybe forgot them didn't bring them, we had hand sanitizer and wipes positioned throughout Mizzou arena and again we ensured social distancing was maintained," Fleming said.
COVID-19 safety plans include:
- Seat markers that show where not to sit
- Reader tables with plexiglass, wipes and gloves
- Check-in tables with plexiglass, wipes and gloves
- Masks and face coverings available at the entrance to Mizzou Arena
- Markings on the floor for graduates to keep their distance
Everyone is required to stay in their assigned seats at all times, including media.
MU says no ceremony will go over 75 minutes, in order to give staff time to disinfect graduate seating areas between ceremonies.
Ceremonies started at 9:45 a.m Friday and will continue through this weekend and next.