CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Johnson C. Smith University announced Tuesday that all in-person homecoming activities and commencement exercises will be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a message to students and faculty, JCSU President Clarence Armbrister said the move was in part due to conditions in North Carolina.
Due to the COVID-19 data for the state, JCSU officials decided it wasn't wise to host in-person homecoming activities for the coming school year, and that same data led to a similar conclusion for October 28 Commencement Exercises.
"We understand how much our 2020 graduates and their families were looking forward to an in-person graduation ceremony," Armbrister said, in part, in a message to the JCSU community. "All of us were looking forward to the traditional pomp and circumstance of graduation and celebrating the milestone achievement with you."
Armbrister said they made the announcement when they did to allow graduates, families and alumni appropriate notice for planning purposes.
JCSU is still planning to have its homecoming football game on Saturday, October 31. The JCSU Athletics staff and JCSU administration are in communication with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) to determine attendance plans.
Armbrister thanked the JCSU community for their understanding, and said he prays the time to gather again will come "sooner rather than later."
"Your safety – all of our safety – is our top priority," Armbrister said in the message. "Although we are saddened we will not be together in person to Hold High the Gold and Blue, the cancellation of Homecoming activities and Commencement Exercises is necessary to help minimize the spread of COVID-19."
Nearby, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte announced on May 26 that the in-person commencement for May 2020 graduates will tentatively be planned for December of this year. A final decision has not been made.
Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte previously announced the college would be celebrating 2020 graduates with drive-through graduation ceremonies. Those are scheduled for July 29 and July 30.