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How Utah colleges are celebrating commencement

FILE -- Students sit and put their masks on during the spring and summer graduation ceremonies at Stewart Stadium at Weber State University in Ogden on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. Yukai Peng, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah college students have shifted to hybrid-learning systems with both in-person and virtual classes. For the class of 2021, many spent their senior years online — earning their bachelor’s degree from their living room couch. 

With graduation ceremonies largely canceled in 2020 because of rising coronavirus numbers, many Utah colleges are approaching commencement in a different way. Some are hosting in-person ceremonies, whereas others are abstaining from commencement altogether. 

Here’s a breakdown of how each Utah college and university is hosting commencement: 

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University hosted its commencement ceremonies virtually on Thursday, April 22, broadcasting them live on BYUtv from the Marriott Center. The decision was made to comply with local and state health guidelines. 

“This decision was not made lightly, and we know how disappointing this news may be for you and your loved ones,” said BYU Academic Vice President Shane Reese in a statement. “We look forward, however, to the opportunity to recognize our outstanding students as graduates with perhaps ‘less pomp, but more circumstance.’ Our COVID circumstances have provided opportunities for unique recognitions that are commensurate with our truly remarkable graduates.”

Dixie State University

Dixie State University will host an in-person commencement ceremony Friday, May 7, in the Greater Zion Stadium. The college will host one ceremony honoring all undergraduate, graduate and associates graduates. 

All attendees will be required to wear face masks during the ceremony, although it’s unclear whether the college is limiting how many guests a graduate may bring. 

Southern Utah University

Southern Utah University will hold commencement in person, splitting the graduating class into two ceremonies.

The schools of business, sciences, engineering and computational sciences, humanities and social sciences will be held Friday, April 30. The schools of education and human development, health sciences, and performing arts will be held Saturday, May 1. 

Both ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. Graduates may invite guests to sit in campus overflow seating, with both ceremonies being livestreamed online. 

University of Utah

The University of Utah will host in-person, outdoor ceremonies for each school on Wednesday, May 5 through Saturday, May 8. Each graduate is allotted four guest tickets, with the university live streaming the ceremonies for other family members to watch online. 

Attendance will be limited to faculty, graduates and a small audience of family and friends. The college will require attendees to wear face masks and maintain physical distancing. 

Each of the ceremonies will be open to graduates of the class of 2020, who weren’t able to attend an in-person convocation last year. 

Utah State University

Utah State University will host both a virtual commencement as well as in-person ceremonies for the separate academic schools. The virtual ceremony will be broadcast Wednesday, May 5. 

In-person ceremonies will be held on Thursday, May 6 through Friday, May 7. Each graduate is allotted two guest tickets and everyone will be required to wear a mask for the duration of the ceremony. 

Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University will host its graduation ceremonies in person, with an overarching commencement ceremony Friday, May 7, and each school hosting a separate convocation. 

To accommodate COVID-19 guidelines, ceremonies will be held as a drive-thru experience. Each graduate is allotted one car for their ceremony. 

Weber State University

Weber State University will host in-person commencement ceremonies from Thursday, April 29 through Saturday, May 1. All ceremonies will be held outdoors in the Stewart Stadium. 

All attendees must register, although it’s unclear whether graduates are limited in how many guests they may invite. 

Westminster College

Westminster College will host its commencement in person, dividing graduates into three separate ceremonies on Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8. Each graduate is allotted two guest tickets with every attendee required to wear a mask. 

The college will also live stream the ceremonies online