Completing four years of college, or more, and getting your degree is a big deal. Walking across that stage in my cap and gown. Shaking the president of the university's hand in front of my family. Processing in and out of the auditorium. It was a big deal for me. I didn't know it at the time, but it was. For graduates of the class of 2020 and 2021 at Mizzou, some of the pomp and circumstance of graduation will be curtailed due to COVID-19.

If you are graduating from Mizzou this spring, or have a son or daughter graduating, here's what you need to know. This is from the Mizzou website:

  • If you want to walk, you'll need a cap and gown, which you can now get at the Mizzou Bookstore.
  • Each graduate can have up to six guests at graduation, and each guest must have a ticket. Seating will be done in pods up to six. And all graduates and guests must wear a mask. Ticket pickup will be between April 19-25.
  • Graduation ceremonies will be held the weekends of May 7 and May 14.
  • Graduates should arrive at their ceremony no later than 30 minutes prior to it's start.
  • Free parking for guests will be available at Mizzou Arena and the Hearnes Center.
  • Graduates have the opportunity to have their name called and walk across a designated space. There will be no stage or raised platform to facilitate social distancing of those usually on the platform. Graduates will also pick up their own diploma cover from a table.
  • 2021 graduates will have their diplomas sent to their home at a later date. 2020 graduates should have received their diplomas.
  • Mizzou's commencement website will stream and record all graduation ceremonies.

And there are some specific considerations because of COVID-19. Events will not exceed 75 minutes to facilitate the cleaning and disinfecting of graduate seating areas between ceremonies. Seating for guests and graduates will be socially distant, and there will be no processional. There will be no hooding ceremonies. And graduates are asked not to approach those University officials in the platform party to shake hands or receive congratulations. All guests and members of the media are asked to stay in their seats for the duration of the ceremony.

I'm glad the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 will have an acknowledgement of their hard work. I'm glad they'll be able to walk. I'm a little sad they won't be able to receive a handshake from the University President or Dean or high five or hug their favorite professor or mentor. Or that they won't be able to participate in a procession. But it's certainly better than wrapping up your college career with nothing but a diploma in the mail along with a bill talking about how you can start paying back your student loan.

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