Another round of UMES grads also forced to have virtual commencement

PRINCESS ANNE — A week before fall commencement was to be held at UMES the rules changed because of the spread of the coronavirus, upending those plans.

The mandate that less than 100 people indoors could be together provided they were six feet apart was changed Nov. 12 by Gov. Larry Hogan to less than 25 people, and as a result plans previously approved by the Somerset County Health Department “were no longer going to be acceptable,” stated Dr. Heidi Anderson, university president, in a message to the campus community.

“We all know this comes as a blow, just one week before you were to walk across the stage. Please understand, if there were any other way, we would make it happen,” she said.

Commencement — which was to require a COVID-19 screening in advance — had been set for Nov. 20. As an alternative there will be a series of photo shoots across campus, and graduates will be contacted to take part and encouraged to wear their cap and gown for a virtual celebration set for 11 a.m. Dec. 18.

Graduates were also asked to submit two to three photos and send them to EMSE@umes.edu by Friday, Dec. 4. They will be used along with other video messages.

“Our team has put in a lot of work and we feel your frustration with this new mandate,” Dr. Anderson said. “We look forward to a time when we can gather together as one big Hawk Family….” A link to the virtual commencement is at UMES.edu.

The spring 2020 graduation was also online only after COVID-19 mid-March resulted in week-long extension of Spring Break with the campus closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the semester.