LOS ANGELES (CNS) — USC Friday revised guidelines for the university's commencement ceremonies, announcing that health officials will allow participation by the full graduating classes of both 2020 and 2021, including international students who are permitted to travel to the U.S.
Last month, university officials said the ceremonies would be held over a two-week span at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but that only in- state students would be allowed to attend.
In a letter to the Trojan community on Friday, President Carol Folt stated that because social distancing requirements would impact capacity, graduates would be allowed no more than two guests, and that the state requires that those guests be California residents.
"We understand the frustration and disappointment these restrictions and their timing are causing and will continue to urge state officials to allow out-of-state guests to attend commencement ceremonies. We will let you know immediately if these requirements change," Folt said.
International students currently abroad were advised to work with the Office of International Services to review potential visa and U.S. entry challenges involved with such travel.
Due to surging COVID-19 numbers and the resultant mandates by health officials, last year's in-person graduation ceremonies were canceled at USC, as well as most other universities.
Last month, Folt began outlining what the commencement ceremonies would involve, saying they would combine elements of USC's traditional main graduation ceremony with those of individual schools and colleges. She said that every graduate would be invited to a single ceremony with their specific school or degree program cohort. Graduates would have the opportunity to cross the stage, hear their names read, receive their diplomas, and have their photos taken while projected on the screens at the stadium.
However, due to distancing requirements, it would not be possible to hood doctoral candidates, so those ceremonies would take place at a future time when restrictions are lifted, she said.
USC's graduation ceremonies will be held twice daily from May 14 to May 25. All graduates must pre-register on the university's commencement webpage or they will not be allowed to attend. The registration deadline was extended to April 15.
"Once registration has closed, and we have firm numbers, we will be able to finalize a schedule with the time and date for each ceremony by school," Folt said.