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Univ. COVID-19 updates: virtual commencement, changes to capacity limits

President Ron Liebowitz announced the cancellation of the class of 2021’s in-person commencement ceremony in an email sent out to the student body on Feb. 23. The decision comes in response to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of positive cases in the state of Massachusetts, according to the email. 

The decision was made due to many factors regarding the current COVID-19 situation including  the infection rate in the state of Massachusetts being over a thousand new infections per day, according to the email. Other reasons included the slow vaccine roll out, new strains of the COVID-19 virus spreading and state guidelines restricting the number of people at outdoor gatherings to 25, according to the email. 

According to Liebowtiz, the university does not expect the current status regarding the coronavirus to change dramatically to allow an in-person commencement to be held so they made the decision early to have it virtually in order to plan accordingly. The virtual Commencement will be held on May 23.

In the email, Liebowitz wrote there would be a virtual commencement for the class of 2021 in lieu of the traditional ceremony, which will have live and pre-recorded segments. In addition to the virtual commencement, there will be other virtual events held in the days prior which will also celebrate the graduates, according to the email. 

Graduates of the class of 2021 and 2020 have been invited to future in-person commencements, where they will be recognized for their work at this university. 

The university announced they will be increasing capacity limits in labs and at religious gatherings on campus in an email sent by Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Fierke, Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance, Stewart Uretsky and Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Lu Ming Ou.

Lab density has increased from 40 percent capacity to 60 percent capacity, according to the email. Students must practice six-foot physical distancing and maintain other standard health and safety procedures, according to the email. 

Religious gatherings have also been allowed to increase their capacity due to a change in the Massachusetts State Guidelines. Religious gatherings are now able to run at either 25 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever number is lower, according to the email. The number of people at the gatherings should still abide by the room capacity limit, according to the email. 

Coaching staff received an email from Athletics Director Lauren Haynie, on Feb. 20, stating that Students-athletes attending practice and/or strength and conditioning sessions must have a green passport in order to participate, according to an email obtained by The Brandeis Hoot. Yellow passports are no longer acceptable for student-athletes who intend on  participating in team activities, according to the email. 

The protocol was made mandatory on Feb. 22; coaches are responsible for checking their athletes’ passports to make sure they are green before they begin practice, according to the email. Coaching staff are also required to maintain a green passport when attending practice.

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