Graduates to walk at commencement, protocols in place to mitigate potential COVID-19 spread

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K-State will have its first in-person commencement ceremonies since the fall 2019 graduation. (Photo Illustration by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Gowns won’t be the only attire for Kansas State graduates this year. All graduates — as well as their guests — will be required to wear a mask.

Additionally, the ceremonies this year are scheduled to occur outside to allow for better airflow and additional space to separate individuals, Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management, said. For the Manhattan campus, commencement will occur at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“K-State has a long tradition of recognizing graduates at an in-person commencement ceremony,” Goos said via email. “University leadership understands the importance of this tradition and wants to honor students by hosting an in-person ceremony.”

This commencement will be the first in-person commencement ceremony since the fall of 2019. Pranav Savanur, senior in biology, said he has friends who graduated last semester and last year who were sad they weren’t able to walk.

“I really hoped I could do the walk because of all the four years I’ve put in towards getting my degree,” Savanur said. “The way I decided is that vaccinations [have] been given out to K-State students at a great level, and there is good vaccine distribution across the state and across the country as well right now. I personally received both my doses of the vaccine, and I feel [safer] and more confident in actually attending an in-person event with such a large gathering.”

Students are allowed only six guests for the ceremony. This is to promote social distancing and accommodate the guidelines set for Bill Snyder Family Stadium. K-State requires the stadium remain at 25 percent capacity because of the pandemic.

“Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the venue as well as on the field for graduate use,” Goos said. “No handshaking will occur as graduates cross the stage. There will be central entrances and exits to the stadium to encourage a one-way traffic flow. Gathering on the concourse of the venue will be discouraged. All precautions are set forth to assist in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.”

The committee is working with university emergency management and Riley County officials to make preparations in the event of inclement weather, Goos said.

“Ceremonies may be delayed, but in the case of a cancellation, ceremonies will not be rescheduled,” Goos said.

Savanur said his parents won’t be able to see him graduate because they are in India and international borders are closed because of COVID-19.

“After I graduate, I’m planning to have a small celebration with a very close bubble of friends who all have been vaccinated,” Savanur said. “I’ve been taking protocols seriously, such as wearing masks outdoors and following all social distancing rules.”

Savanur said he encourages any K-State student to get vaccinated if they haven’t yet.

“Also make sure that their parents and their grandparents or anybody in their family and within their friend network who might [have a] pre-existing condition or might be vulnerable to COVID get their vaccines ASAP — and make sure that they celebrate their graduation and have fun,” he said.

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Hi there! I'm Julie Freijat. I'm the managing editor of the Collegian. In the past, I've served as an editor on the news and culture desks and worked closely with the multimedia staff. I love science and technology, hate poor movie dialogue and my favorite subreddit is r/truecrime.