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HESSTON — Hesston College announced Monday that the graduation ceremony for the spring 2020 semester has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I know that this is yet another disappointing turn of events for all of our graduation candidates who are not returning to Hesston College in the fall," said Brent Yoder, vice president of academics. "You already had to say abrupt goodbyes to your classmates and many others if you even had the chance to say goodbye at all, and now we won’t have the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments together just as you are finishing up your remaining courses."

According to the release, plans for an alternative graduation ceremony is in the works, including in-person delivery of degrees.

Hesston College is a two-year junior college (with the exception of four-year nursing and aviation programs) with an enrollment of about 450 students. The college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. The enrollment includes students from about 32 states and 20 countries.

"We do still hope to find a way to celebrate years of hard work by the class of 2020, although we do not know exactly how or when that will happen," Yoder said.

According to the release, on-campus activities were suspended March 12, two days before the start of spring break. Classes resumed March 23, but were shifted online. The commencement was scheduled for May 16.

"Even if new cases begin to diminish in May, the reality is that we will not be able to immediately return to meeting in large groups like commencement would bring," Yoder said.