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March 17, 2020
Class of 2020,
As optometry students about to use your skills to join the ranks of our nation's healthcare providers, I'm sure you've been monitoring the rapidly developing global pandemic. The CDC has recommended no group gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.
Under those guidelines, you can see the difficult position that colleges and universities are facing. SCO is no exception, so regrettably, we must postpone May 5th commencement plans as they currently stand. You can begin to notify your friends and family. We know how upsetting this will be, even more so because you represent the Class of 2020. Just your 2020 graduation year alone has always held a special connotation.
Here's where the situation currently stands. SCO is actively working with our sister institutions to craft a plan where the profession could collectively verify that your class has met graduation requirements. Because SCO has traditionally embraced such a rigorous clinical education program, we believe that we are able to assess each student's competency for the high standards expected of our graduates.
This plan is still in development and must ultimately be acceptable to the United States Department of Education, so please exercise patience as we work on this for you. Once we have more guidance, we will be in a much better position of evaluating alternative options. We're communicating this decision to let you know that SCO is working with all other optometric programs.
In the interim, we're also hard at work on some ideas where you may each still be able to participate in a more traditional ceremony. Thanks to each of you in advance for your understanding and cooperation during these unprecedented and challenging times.
Please stay healthy,
Dr. Lewis Reich
Southern College of Optometry