While a 'cap and gown' is off the table, Providence College is still hoping to celebrate the graduates of 2020 in some way.
Normally, the Christian college has an entire graduation ceremony for all their students in April. However, when the pandemic hit, the staff pushed it off until October.
As of yesterday, they sent out an email to all the students letting them know the October graduation event is cancelled.
Samantha Groenendijk is the Vice President of External Relations at Providence College in Otterburne, MB.
She says, "With everything going on with COVID we just couldn't do our typical graduation. We decided to move it to October. The hope was that we were going to pick it [the regular ceremony] up and just have it in October."
Providence had roughly 100 students that graduated in 2020.
"Education is obviously the earmark of what we do here at Providence so to celebrate those accomplishments is really important for our students."
As of Monday, the Province of Manitoba announced a guideline of a maximum of 50 people gathering inside, with a 6 ft distance of each other, making a ceremony of roughly 100 graduates inside impossible.
Groenendijk says, "We want to ensure the safety of the families of our graduates and of our community by saying, I think we have to hold off with our in-person gathering at this point."
They are not fully cancelling any sort of celebration for the graduates.
She says, "There certainly is conversation around how we're going to best celebrate them. However, we don't have a firm plan right now of what that looks like."
Certificates have already been sent.
"I would say to any graduates that we are so thankful for their desire to stick with Providence throughout their education. At Providence, we talk about our students being difference-makers in the community and we're really proud of them. We hope that they would reach out to us if they are feeling a sense of disappointment or sadness."
One 2020 Providence graduate, John Telman, heard the news and responded with a Facebook post, saying, "While I have earned my Doctor of Ministry, the current restrictions will not allow for this special event to take place. It would have been special but I understand that decisions must be made."
Telman currently lives in Saskatchewan with his wife but mentions he would have been willing to travel for the ceremony.
He says, "Nevertheless, my formal education has been completed and I am grateful for the years I spent at Prov."
The Christian college is carefully resuming in-person classes again, with 'Welcome Week' starting on September 4.