The renowned HBCU’s President Wayne A.I. Frederick announced the news via a statement that is posted on the university’s website. The positive patient visited the campus on March 7 for the school’s Charter Day Dinner, according to the statement.
As a result, Frederick said HU officials “consulted with medical and public-health experts” and decided it was best to stop in-person classes for the rest of the semester and call off commencement.
“Commencement and All-Class Reunions are canceled. On Sunday, the CDC issued recommendations that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. Although the CDC states that this does not apply to the day to day operations of institutions of higher education, we do not consider commencement a day-to-day operation,” the statement read. “Given that Howard’s Commencement activities garner crowds of thousands, and the numerous elders and children regularly in attendance, we will cancel the event to avoid the potential for additional virus spread which would be problematic.”
Frederick also asked students who attended Spring Break abroad to refrain from returning to campus immediately, but rather wait until a later date to retrieve their belongings.
“This is our best plan of action in order to ensure that this global pandemic does not proliferate the campus community. We have concerns of worsening supply chain disruptions that will decrease our ability to provide services to the students on campus. Additional details will be shared regarding departures from the residence halls, online coursework and other considerations,” Frederick said.
While some applauded Howard’s decision to be proactive in putting the health and safety of the masses first, others were disappointed the 2020 Class of Bisons wouldn’t get to take their special walk across the stage.
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Howard Senior Cydney Stephens vented her frustration about not being able to have commencement on Twitter.
“F*** Howard University and I genuinely mean that with every ounce of my body. I went through some of the worst times of my life in that hoe just for them to cancel graduation … I need some money back. ASAP,” she tweeted.
Howard alum Imani Pope encouraged one of her mentees, Kyra Azore, to see things from a different perspective, when Azore said the move seemed extreme.
“Mentee, you must understand the approach and respect it. 8 weeks from now is week of graduation, and that’s not even enough time to set up, plus that brings in thousands who can be at risk. Not worth it,” Pope tweeted.
Acknowledging the heartbreak the move would cause, Frederick thanked the HU community for its patience.
“I appreciate the continuous patience and understanding that our community has exhibited during this evolving national crisis. As an alumnus myself, I am deeply saddened that our academic season has been disrupted and I apologize for the inconvenience that these changes have caused. However, the safety of our community is our utmost priority and each hard decision to de-densify the campus is being implemented in an effort to reduce our community’s risk to exposure,” he said.
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