VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – The road to this year’s college graduation has been a long journey with COVID-19 causing the ceremony to be postponed. Now, with a tentative date in place, it’s looking like there’s an end in sight.
Earlier this year, COVID-19 forced USD to close campus to students and have them all learn remotely.
“The energy is very different without the students around. We want that energy back,” President of the University of South Dakota Sheila Gestring said.
Gestring, along with the University’s COVID-19 Task Force, are battling those odds to give the Class of 2020 a ceremony to remember.
“It represents all corners of the campus from students life to academics to research to every imaginable corner of campus,” Gestring said.
On Tuesday, she announced the day will be on Saturday, October 24th. The celebration will be held in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
“It’s going to be new and different, but it’s something,” Class of 2020 Senior Cassie Schoenhard said.
Graduating seniors like Schoenhard are happy to know there’s an ending in sight.
“The whole thing that makes me so excited about graduation is the context surrounding it and that we have our friends and family there to celebrate with us,” Schoenhard said.
In terms of social distancing, how the ceremony is organized will depend on CDC guidelines around that time. Gestring says they chose the date in hopes of the coronavirus dying down and to beat another annual threat.
“We wanted to do it before, perhaps, the flu season because the flu will be an element looking forward as well,” Gestring said.
And that isn’t the last one they’ll face.
“It will be the morning of the day we play the University of Northern Iowa in football, so it should be an event; a great day,” Gestring said.
They say hindsight is 2020, and, while there was no way they could’ve seen this coming, this final year will be something Schoenhard and her class will look back on for years to come.
“I’m just really happy to be a student at USD because I know that they’re doing the best they possibly can for their students and I’m really thankful for that,” Schoenhard said.
“We want to give the class of 2020 that same memorable experience,” Gestring said.