Virginia Tech ramps up COVID-19 mitigation for fall commencement ceremonies

Coronavirus

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech’s fall commencement ceremonies were once again celebrated in person as more than 2,800 Hokies crossed the stage on Friday.

Virginia Tech spokesperson Mark Owczarski says this could not have happened if it weren’t for the university’s vaccination rates.

“Today for commencement, our guests, our graduates, and our faculty will all be wearing masks because it is the safest thing to do so,” said Owczarski on Friday, Dec. 17.

According to the university’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 95 percent of students and 94 percent of employees are reportedly vaccinated against the virus.

Owczarski says the school was closely watching these numbers.

Between Friday, Dec. 10 and Thursday, Dec. 16, the Virginia Tech coronavirus dashboard says that 777 Hokies were tested for the virus, of whom 16 students and one employee tested positive.

“So much credit has to go to the students and faculty and staff, all of whom or most of whom were vaccinated,” said Owczarski.

According to Owczarski, this made a more normal fall semester possible and contributed the decision to hold fall commencement in person Friday.

However, even with in-person events, President Tim Sands made sure those who were graduating understood the changes to the ceremonies.

“As you know, we will not be shaking hands on the stage here this year. But just know that I will be shaking your hands in spirit as I am proud of what you all accomplished,” said Sands as he spoke to the graduating students.

Owczarski says that after graduation and the holiday break, the university will be ramping up COVID-19 mitigation efforts to make sure the number of people who test positive for the virus stays down.

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