To the Class of 2020,
I hope this note finds you well, and that you are feeling rightfully proud to be graduates of the University of Virginia.
In April, I wrote to let you know about our plans to hold Final Exercises on the Lawn, either this fall or next spring, and that we would follow up with more details in June in order to give you plenty of time to make plans. Today, we can confirm that Final Exercises will be held on May 28-30, 2021--assuming, as always, that public health regulations by that point permit large gatherings.
We reached this decision for several reasons. First, the dates set aside in October for Final Exercises lined up with fall break for current UVA students. Last week we announced that undergraduate fall break will be canceled. We are doing this so that we can finish in-person instruction by Thanksgiving in order to minimize travel and possible transmission of the virus. This means that students will be on Grounds and in classes during the date set aside for Final Exercises, and it would be difficult to accommodate thousands of graduates and their families at the same time. Second, we have put in place public health measures for the fall—including social distancing requirements—that would make it hard to hold Final Exercises on the Lawn and to hold individual ceremonies across Grounds. Finally, while we still don’t know exactly what the fall will look like in terms of the progression of the virus, it seems quite unlikely that public health restrictions will allow for large gatherings by October.
For all of these reasons, we believe holding Final Exercises in the spring is the right choice. We know this may be disappointing news for some of you, but our primary goal—beyond keeping you and everyone on Grounds safe—is to give you and your families the celebration you deserve, and one that reflects the special place the Class of 2020 will always hold in the history of this university. Holding Final Exercises in May gives us the best chance to do that, and we’re already working on ways to make the weekend a meaningful and memorable one.
We will be sharing more information about Final Exercises as we get closer, and we look forward to seeing you on the Lawn next spring for what will be a truly one-of-a-kind celebration.