- Associated Press - Saturday, March 20, 2021

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is changing course and now plans in-person spring graduation ceremonies in May as the coronavirus outbreak slows.

UNLV President Keith Whitfield on Friday announced the change from plans announced in February to hold graduation virtually.

Whitfield said in a letter to students and staff that he firmly believes the university “can offer a traditional commencement while adhering to public health guidelines.”

“Graduation is the culmination of a student’s educational journey and is a significant milestone in their UNLV career. We need to make every effort to provide an experience our graduates so richly deserve,” Whitfield wrote.

Whitfield said there would be two ceremonies for spring 2021 graduates at 8 a.m. on May 14 and May 15 and a third ceremony for 2020 graduates on May 14 at 6:30 p.m.



All three ceremonies will be held at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Each graduate will be allowed up to four guests, with everyone required to follow social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings.

Whitfield said holding the in-person graduation ceremonies is contingent on approval from local and state authorities and COVID numbers continuing to decline.

Nevada on Saturday reported 271 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases with 10 more deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 300,951 cases and 5,171 deaths, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

The state’s seven-day rolling averages both declined over the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The rolling average of daily new cases dropped from about 347 on March 4 to around 294 on Thursday and the rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 11.1 to 9.1 during the same period.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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