By: Iman Palm and Julia Terbeche
Long Beach State is considering hosting an in-person commencement ceremony potentially at an outside venue in accordance with new state guidelines, President Jane Close Conoley confirmed Tuesday.
“We are hopeful that the new guidelines we expect from the governor will allow for a face-to-face commencement,” Conoley said in an email.
According to Conoley, the university has plans to move forward with a face-to-face graduation for the classes of 2020 and 2021 this May in the event Gov. Gavin Newsom releases updated information that permits in-person gatherings.
As of March 11, California authorizes limited capacity live events under the red tier beginning April 1, 2021 with modifications such as a maximum capacity of 20%, a weekly worker testing program and in-state visitors only, depending on the state’s travel advisory.
Conoley said that the state’s updated guidelines “may allow us to rent a big venue, for example Angel Stadium, and hold ceremonies there that will keep us within the guidelines associated with capacity limits.”
The hybrid ceremony is currently scheduled for May 18 to 21. It is not known yet if these dates will change for the proposed in-person event.
The California Department of Public Health confirmed in an email that the state has moved toward authorizing events of this degree starting next month.
“In preparation for the end of the school year, CDPH announced that graduation and commencement ceremony organizers can begin to plan for events following the Outdoor Live Events with Assigned Seats and Controlled Mixing guidelines, which take effect on April 1. More detailed guidance is forthcoming,” the statement reads.
This comes after the city of Long Beach and Los Angeles County have progressed from the purple tier, or widespread risk, into the red tier, or substantial risk, Monday, March 15 under California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Under the city’s directive, places like movie theaters, restaurants and gyms are now able to reopen with indoor operations and limited capacity. Outdoor live events may resume in the city at limited capacity beginning April 1, which would be in time for the spring commencement.
Conoley said that Michelle Cesca, vice president for University Relations and Development, has been working with her team to develop plans for alternative ceremonies.
Prior to this news, students have voiced their disappointment surrounding the plan for a hybrid ceremony, leading some to even organize and sign a petition that urges the university to consider having an in-person commencement.
As of March 16, the change.org petition has over 350 signatures with a current goal of reaching 500 signatures.
“We’re excited and hopeful and just trying not to get too far ahead of the governor,” Conoley said.
This story will be updated as more detailed information about commencement becomes available.