LSU will hold its summer commencement ceremony online due to uncertain circumstances surrounding Louisiana's recovery from the initial spread of coronavirus, interim LSU President Tom Galligan said in an open letter Thursday.
The virtual ceremony will be broadcast on LSU's Facebook page at 10 a.m. on Aug. 7.
The university explored "many possibilities" on how to safely hold an in-person ceremony, Galligan said, but since it is uncertain what phase of recovery Louisiana will be in by August, LSU decided that a virtual ceremony "is the best option for everyone's safety at this time."
"We know this news will disappoint many of our graduates and their families," Galligan said, "but the safety of our LSU community is our utmost priority."
Galligan pledged that LSU will still hold an in-person commencement ceremony for its spring and summer graduates "at a later date."
LSU first postponed its spring commencement on March 24, and university officials hoped to hold a future ceremony in-person at the end of the summer.
"The safety and well-being of everyone in our LSU community is our highest priority and with that guiding principle, we knew that we could not put anyone in harm's way by holding our commencement ceremonies as planned," Galligan said at the time. "It was an extremely hard decision to make, but it's the right one."
LSU is currently in Phase 2 of its return-to-campus plan, and on June 29, the university expects to begin Phase 3, which will boost faculty and staff to 75% or less of personnel on campus.
Phase 3 will also include limited reopenings of the UREC, Union, library and dining facilities.
Galligan said the university is anticipating Gov. John Bel Edwards to further ease his stay-at-home order restrictions on June 26. Louisiana is currently in Phase 2 of Edwards' order, which allows, in part, restaurants, malls, gyms and outdoor playgrounds to operate at 50% capacity.
Since the first coronavirus case in Louisiana was reported on March 9, the state has 48,634 total confirmed cases, 37,017 recoveries and 2,950 deaths. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, Louisiana had 928 new reported cases on Wednesday — its second-highest total since May 21 (1,188).