Opinion | The UI needs to make sure graduation celebrations are COVID-19 safe

It would be irresponsible of the UI to have any graduation celebrations that don’t follow all health guidelines.


Ryan Adams

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld speaks during virtual commencement on Saturday, May 16, 2020. Due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19, the University of Iowa moved commencement online in March.

Josie Taylor, Opinions Contributor

Despite relatively low case numbers and vaccinations, the University of Iowa needs to make sure its in-person graduation celebration is still COVID-19 safe.

The UI announced that it’s planning on holding an optional in-person graduation celebration for spring 2021 graduates in addition to virtual commencement ceremonies. Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa announced a plan for a modified version of a graduation ceremony.

ISU and UNI may have developed working in-person ceremonies, but the UI has kept its plans very vague. This leaves them the opportunity to make sure that the celebration they host is done in a safe way.

We may be tired of virtual events and canceling or changing our plans this year, but it’s something we all have to do for the greater good of everyone.

People in Iowa are still dying of COVID-19 almost every day. Although people are starting to be vaccinated, we should not halt all efforts to slow the spread.

At the current rate, everyone in Iowa may not be vaccinated by May, as only 9.7 of Iowans percent are fully vaccinated now, according to the Washington Post’s vaccine tracker. It is safe to say that none of us should count on full vaccinations within the next two months.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said she hopes for college students to be eligible for vaccination by April, but projections are subject to change. The UI also recently sent out an email telling students to stay patient since vaccine doses are still limited. At the current rate, this leaves little hope for that projection to stay the same.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes it clear that “The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading.”

This should encourage everyone to limit interactions whenever possible, even if they are celebrating something important like graduation.

If the UI wants to hold an in-person celebration, those responsible for planning it should make sure they are carefully following all health guidelines.

The UI and ISU have said that masks will be required for any event, however, ISU has said they are not planning on limiting attendance. The UI should consider not following in their footsteps and limit the number of individuals like the CDC recommends. One way to do this is to consider allowing only two guests per graduate.

It is also recommended by the CDC that any events that can be held outside should be. If the UI wants to hold any celebrations for 2021 graduates, they should be held in a large outdoor space like Kinnick Stadium.

It is better to play it safe instead of holding a large indoor celebration before the pandemic is over. Any of our neighbors, friends, or family members could be hurt if we are not safe.

Although many of us feel ready to be done with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not done yet. We still have a responsibility to keep our community safe. It is understandable to want graduates to have a celebration. We just need to make sure celebrations are done in a safe way.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.