University of Iowa moves spring 2021 commencement online

The university announced it will move spring 2021 graduation ceremonies online, making it the third consecutive ceremony to transfer to a virtual format. The university also announced a pilot wastewater testing program on campus.

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Hayden Froehlich

The Old Capital building is seen on Nov. 19, 2019.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter


The University of Iowa’s spring 2021 commencement will be held virtually, the university announced on Wednesday.

In a campus-wide email, the university said it was disappointed that the ceremony will be shifted online again. The May commencement will be the third moved online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic after the spring and fall 2020 ceremonies were held online. 

“While May seems a long way off, we feel it is the right decision to make now to maintain the health and safety of the entire campus community,” the email said. “Although we will not be able to celebrate in person, the university is committed to honoring our graduates and celebrating their achievements in a way that allows for participation from friends and family virtually.”

The university also announced it will soon begin testing wastewater to help monitor the presence of novel coronavirus on campus. The program plans to focus on the ten residence halls on campus. 

According to the email, wastewater testing can help detect COVID-19 infections before individuals have symptoms as well as detect the virus in asymptomatic cases.

The pilot program is made possible by a partnership between the State Hygienic Lab, UI Facilities Management, Engie North America, the UI’s College of Public Health, and two other university departments. The email did not provide a timeline for the program to start. 

The university update also announced 12 additional cases of COVID-19 on campus. Six students and six employees at the UI self-reported cases since Feb. 1. There are no students in quarantine or self-isolation in the residence halls. 

As The Daily Iowan previously reported, three cases of the U.K COVID-19 variant have been confirmed in Iowa. Two cases were found in Johnson County. 

The campus-wide COVID-19 update on Wednesday reminded students to protect themselves by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing guidelines, washing their hands frequently, and avoiding indoor gatherings.

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