TIFFIN — Heidelberg University on Tuesday announced that its Senior Leadership Team has made the “painfully difficult decision” to cancel their planned August 29 in-person commencement ceremony on campus.
The decision comes as Ohio experiences an upward trend in COVID-19 cases.
“A large Commencement Committee began making plans for this wonderful celebration at a time when the outlook for the COVID-19 pandemic was more positive and projected to further decline in Ohio. That is not the case now,” a letter from Heidelberg University President Robert H. Huntington states.
“With the reported spread in large congregate settings – despite sanitization practices, physical distancing and universal mask wearing that are known to be effective in preventing COVID-19 spread — we would not be able to guarantee the health and safety of you and your family, our students on campus, or the campus community. Other large-scale campus events are being retooled with the same health and safety priorities in mind,” Huntington continued in the letter sent to graduates and families.
Huntington says he understands that the announcement might create “yet another layer of disappointment, sense of loss, and perhaps even exasperation,” but Heidelberg University “deeply regrets” having to make this call.
“We weighed many factors and scenarios, and ultimately, we were guided by our priority for the safety and well-being of everyone on our campus. We determined that the risk of a large gathering of this nature is simply too high. We cannot ensure the health and safety of everyone at an event with 300 guests on campus at this time, given the pandemic surge,” Huntington wrote.
As a way to leave the Class of 2020 with “a few fond memories of [their] graduation,” Heidelberg plans to mail the official Heidelberg Commencement 2020 program, a 2020 tassel, and a specially designed Heidelberg facial covering to graduates.
“The fact that we won’t be able to honor you and your achievements in person does not diminish our pride in the Class of 2020. You are now a member of a large network of ‘Berg alumni who stand together to recognize and honor you, and to welcome you into the Heidelberg alumni family,” Huntington wrote in the letter.