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CANTON ­— St. Lawrence University, in response to the coronavirus health crisis, has canceled its in-person graduation for the class of 2020 and instead is planning a virtual ceremony. 

The university announced the decision Tuesday with a number of other changes including reimbursing students for room and board and continuing online learning through the end of the semester. 

“There are many messages a University president must deliver, yet today’s is among the most forbidding and personally wrenching in my eleven years at St. Lawrence,” wrote Bill Fox, university president in an email to the campus community and alumni. “Since St. Lawrence’s founding 164 years ago, Laurentians have looked forward to the cadence of our treasured traditions each academic year. This global pandemic has upended many plans and forced us to make tough decisions that ensure the health and safety of our community. This is a promise we make to each student and family every day, and it’s a promise that has guided us in every difficult moment during this unfamiliar pattern of days.”

Remote learning will continue through the end of the semester. Students will be able to complete course work off campus. 

In-person commencement scheduled for May 17 will be postponed in favor of a livestreamed event that day to honor the class. 

“This is the least desirable outcome that any of us wanted, and we all share in your immense disappointment, and even your tears,” Mr. Fox stated. “There are now teams of people who will spend an incredible amount of time in the coming days and weeks reimagining the ways we can celebrate you and your numerous accomplishments appropriately and safely.”

He said the college plans to find a time to invite 2020 graduates back to Canton to celebrate the milestone in person. 

In response to student and parent questions on partial refunds or credits for room and board, the transition to online learning for the duration of the semester led the college to provide refunds. 

He said refunds would be calculated and credited to a student’s account after the end of the semester. 

The college is not allowing students to have access to their rooms, or to retrieve their belongings at this time. He said the college is working on a plan.

Students on campus will be able to remain through the semester, or leave for home. 

Reunion weekend is canceled as are all on- and off-campus events scheduled through June 1. 

All spring and summer international internships or travel courses are canceled. 

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