Spring graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 will take place online instead of in-person in May, ASU announced Thursday morning.
"The format may be different, but our enthusiasm for celebration has never been more inspired," President Michael Crow said in an announcement to graduating students.
The decision was made in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the announcement said. Previously, the University moved most of its classes online and asked students still living in campus housing to move out by April 15.
In addition to the online ceremony, graduating seniors will also be allowed to participate in person during the December 2020 and May 2021 graduation ceremonies.
"I understand the desire to share this special occasion with classmates, family and friends," Crow said. "So, let’s do that. Now, and later if you choose to do so."
Students will not receive a refund for their graduation fee, a University spokesperson confirmed late Thursday morning, saying the fee covers “among other administrative items, the graduate’s diploma and diploma case.”
Students who choose to walk in either December or May will not have to pay a new fee, the spokesperson said. Additionally, they said caps and gowns can be returned for a refund “as long as the regalia is unopened.”
ASU follows several other universities, including UC Irvine and the University of Texas system, in canceling or postponing spring commencement ceremonies due to concerns over the coronavirus.
The increased measures to respond to the virus come after Gov. Doug Ducey declared a statewide stay-at-home order on Monday. The order will last until April 30 unless extended, the same date that President Donald Trump extended social distancing guidelines to.
That order asks that Arizonans stay at home unless taking part in what Ducey called "essential activities," including going to work, grocery stores or pharmacies, as well as participating in outdoor physical exercise while practicing social distancing measures.
The order came after Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego declared a state of emergency in the city in late March, asking that Phoenix bars close and that restaurants shift to a take-out, delivery or drive-thru only business model.
Tempe City Council also declared a state of emergency shortly afterward, and Mayor Mark Mitchell asked that Tempe bars and restaurants close their doors for the foreseeable future.
The Arizona Department of Health Services also previously recommended that events or gatherings of 50 people be canceled or postponed. The department made the announcement after reviewing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are currently 1,598 active cases of the coronavirus in Arizona, and there have been 32 deaths in the state. The level of community transmission is considered "widespread," according to ADHS.
This year's commencement and convocation ceremonies were scheduled for May 9 through May 16. The events are usually hosted at various locations both on and surrounding the Downtown and Tempe campuses including Gammage Auditorium, Desert Financial Arena and the Arizona Federal Theatre.
UA and NAU, Arizona's other two four-year public institutions, have also canceled or postponed spring commencement and convocation events.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. to include information about graduation fees.
Reach the reporter at Vandana.Ravikumar@asu.edu and follow @vandana_rav on Twitter.
Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.