University of Pikeville announced changes that it is making to spring commencement this year due to concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

UPike President Burton Webb said in a statement that spring commencement activities, which were scheduled for May 2 this year, cannot be held in-person at the Appalachian Wireless Arena due to concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). UPike officials, he said, are working to develop a virtual commencement ceremony for all of its spring 2020 graduates.

“We will send more information as those plans develop, but if you have ideas, please pass them along,” Webb said in his statement. “We had already planned to hold a December commencement exercise for the growing number of students who finish mid-year, and we are planning to invite anyone from the class of 2020 who would like to walk across the stage and celebrate with family, to join us in either December 2020 or May 2021.”

Webb also said that all UPike classes will remain online for the rest of the spring semester, following Gov. Andy Beshear’s extended request for schools to remain closed until April 20.

Webb said Dean of Student Affairs Justin Owens and his staff are working on a schedule to help students, who have belongings in the campus residence halls, retrieve their belongings while spreading them out over time and keeping the numbers of students low inside the halls.

Webb said UPike will refund some portion of what has been paid for room and board.

“As you can imagine, this is more difficult than it might appear,” Webb said in his statement. “We are still working through all of the variables and will make a decision soon. As soon as we can finalize the details, we will send that information along to you.”

In his statement to students, Webb encouraged them to take care of themselves during this stressful time.

“Stress wears on the body, weakens the immune system and leaves us more susceptible to infection,” Webb said. “Eat healthy food, get outside and exercise, call a friend and talk while you drink coffee. Plan your days rather than letting them simply pass by. Physical distancing with social connection is so incredibly critical as the pandemic evolves. We will get through this together.”

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