Coronavirus closures have claimed commencement for Montana universities this spring.
Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian announced that all Montana University System campuses will "cancel in-person Spring 2020 commencement events," in a release issued Wednesday.
Montana State University Billings announced Friday that graduation ceremonies would be pushed to the end of the fall 2020 semester, citing "clear guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraging travel and large gatherings."
Commencement, scheduled for May 2, is now set for Dec. 19.
“I know this is disappointing to us all, but especially our students, their families and loved ones, who were looking forward to celebrating this incredible milestone at the end of this semester,” Chancellor Dan Edelman said in a press release. “We take comfort knowing that in these uncertain times that our graduates are leading us into the future. We appreciate your understanding and commitment to unite as a community and nation to support our collective efforts to protect those most vulnerable to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic."
The order also affects other colleges around Montana, including flagships in Bozeman and Missoula.
The Montana University System had already switched to online-only instruction and strongly encouraged students to move out of dorms, though campuses haven't completely closed.
Montana universities that are pushing students to leave campus will offer refunds for housing and meal plans, state officials confirmed Monday.