By Luis Castilla
Hundreds of East Los Angeles College graduates of the class of 2020 will gather virtually to be recognized in the district’s first ever virtual commencement ceremony on June 9.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles Community College District will host its first virtual recognition ceremony in place of a traditional graduation ceremony.
Under governor Gavin Newsom’s current orders, which prohibit large gatherings, a commencement ceremony, as it used to be held, is impossible.
This first-of-its-kind ceremony will ensure that the health and safety of the graduates and their families is not threatened by attending a large in-person gathering.
Graduates received an email with information on how to attend the virtual ceremony.
Graduates were also asked to send in photos of themselves as well as quotes for a video package the district is preparing.
Any graduate who did not submit a photo and quote will have their name listed at the end of the presentation.
Hundreds of ELAC graduates have registered to have their photos and quotes displayed in the presentation. It will be available for viewing on Facebook and YouTube for families and friends.
Each virtual graduation ceremony will be found on the nine colleges’ Facebook pages respectively.
Dean of student services Maria Lopez said some of the other options that circulated before deciding on the current ceremony format were a drive-by graduation, a socially-distanced graduation and postponing the ceremony altogether until Spring 2021.
At the end of March, the month ELAC shifted to remote learning, Los Angeles County had a confirmed 3,011 COVID-19 cases. As of June 2, there have been a total of 17,422 confirmed cases from the last two weeks.
As the state prepares to reopen, slowly easing stay-at-home orders are allowing for more freedoms.
Large gatherings are still banned, however, Lopez said she is glad graduates are able to participate in something.
Lopez said hosting a virtual graduation feels surreal.
“I know that a virtual graduation is not what students wanted and that nothing will ever replace the feeling of walking across the stage,” Lopez said. “But I’m glad that we are recognizing their academic achievements in the only platform that is still available to us in this new normal.”