Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced in a statement released Monday that the university will postpone spring commencement due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In the statement, Blank said a virtual commencement will take place May 8 to celebrate graduation. All ceremonies by individual schools and colleges will also be canceled, Blank said.

Students who were planning on graduating this year will still receive their diplomas — the university will release on how they will be delivered soon, Blank said. 

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“Of all the decisions we’ve had to make in this extraordinary time, this one has been the most heartbreaking for me,” Blank said. “There is no better event at UW than commencement when we award degrees and celebrate the completion of school for our graduates.”

The CDC and Governor Tony Evers have recommended that all events with groups larger than 10 be canceled in the coming months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Blank said in the statement that the university waited to make any decisions on commencement in hopes that large events may become possible again for late spring, but as of right now these events are not possible. 

Blank said the university is working with officers from the class of 2020 to create an in-person commencement ceremony that will take place later in the year after the COVID-19 outbreak has cleared up for those who are able to attend. 

Blank also shared a video message with the class of 2020

“For the class of 2020 this is a painful loss,” Blank said. “You should have a chance to celebrate with your teachers, friends and family, and that will not happen this year.”

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In an email to the senior class, the university said cap and gown reservations are still in place and the shipping address can be changed if students would still like them for photos. But, all photo events on campus are canceled due to the current health crisis, including photos at Camp Randall or with the Abe statue on Bascom Hill.

Additionally, the email said families who have already made travel plans should reconsider, as travel is not recommended at this time.

“The coronavirus pandemic has changed many things,” Blank said. “But it doesn’t change the exceptional achievements of the Class of 2020.”

As more information becomes available, it will be posted on the commencement website.