- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy will host a virtual graduation ceremony for the first time in its 144-year history amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony is expected to take place on May 20 virtually and will commission the academy’s largest graduating class of 258 cadets — 102 of which are women — marking the academy’s largest class of female cadets.

“This decision was made in the best interest of the health and well-being of our entire Academy family and our local community,” said Rear Adm. Bill Kelly, the Academy’s superintendent, in a statement earlier this month.

The academy noted that the cadets were on spring break when travel restrictions were imposed and were later ordered to remain home, which prompted the virtual remote classes.

Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security is scheduled to deliver the keynote address and Adm. Karl Schultz, the Commandant of the Coast Guard will also provide remarks.

The commissioning events the Coast Guard Academy is taking to continue efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus mirror those taken by both the U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Naval Academy, the Navy Times reported.

But the Army’s West Point Academy still plans to hold an in-person graduation ceremony that will feature a commencement address by President Trump.

The Class of 2020 will return to the campus in time for the June 13 graduation ceremony. West Point officials have acknowledged it will look different from past ceremonies because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Cadets at the New York academy have been taking courses online while at home. West Point officials say the size and scope of the graduation ceremony will be determined by safety considerations for both cadets and the local community.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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