Graduation ceremonies in the Hudson Valley will still look different this year.

AS COVID-19 restrictions are being slowly lifted in New York State, many are wondering what will be happening for large events. Concerts, weddings, and graduation ceremonies all fall under this umbrella. For graduation ceremonies, new guidance has been given by Governor Cuomo. This new guidance details capacity limits for indoor and outdoor events.

But even with the new guidance and larger gathering limits, most Hudson Valley colleges will not have the fully traditional commencement ceremony. Every college in the Hudson Valley plans on hosting an in-person commencement ceremony, but most don't plan on allowing family and friends to attend.

Vassar College said in an announcement:

"Unfortunately, we are not able to invite family or friends on campus for Commencement. This has been an extremely difficult decision, and we explored many alternative plans to try to accommodate families and friends. In the end, we recognized we could not host families and friends safely and in accordance with New York State guidelines, during what is still a dangerous global pandemic."

According to statements on all of their websites, Vassar College, Mount Saint Mary College, and SUNY New Paltz will not allow family, friends, and other guests to attend their in-person graduation ceremonies if they do end up having one.

SUNY New Paltz said in an announcement:

"To hold in-person ceremonies, we are unable to invite any guests to attend Commencement this year. We will livestream all ceremonies so that friends and family members can hear their graduate’s name called, watch them cross the stage and receive their diploma cover from the comfort and safety of home. The live streams will remain online and can be viewed on demand for one year after the event."

At this time, all colleges in the Hudson Valley have said their plans for in-person ceremonies are tentative and could change. The changes could range from having student capacity limits to becoming a fully virtual ceremony. The local colleges also plan to host ceremonies for last year's graduating class and this year's.

Mount Saint Mary College said in their announcement:

"Unfortunately, we will not be able to invite family or friends on campus for Commencement.  We did not come to this decision lightly, and our primary goal is to host this important event for students in a manner that is consistent with New York State guidelines, during what is still a very dangerous global pandemic.  The ceremonies will be available via live webcast, which will allow families to be a part of this important moment virtually."

While the majority of the colleges in the Hudson Valley have firmly stated they will not allow family, friends, and guests to attend commencement, Marist College in Poughkeepsie said they are hopeful they will be able to allow guests. Marist said they are hoping restrictions will loosen so they can allow each graduate two guests.

Marist College said in their announcement, "We still recommend families do not make any non-refundable travel arrangements...Marist is hoping restrictions will be liberalized to allow two guests per graduate to allow a more traditional event."

At this time, Marist states they are unable to promise that graduates will be able to have guests. They also pointed out that their outdoor commencement will happen rain or shine, and will not have an indoor alternative.

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