The University of Tartu (TÜ) announced on social media that it is canceling all graduation ceremonies this summer to help avoid potentially spreading the COVID-19 virus. The university's graduations are usually held across several days in June.
"The University of Tartu will not hold any graduation ceremonies this summer, as they attract a lot of people and it is thus impossible to avoid close contact," the university wrote on its website.
"We considered postponing graduation ceremonies, but considering current information, this wouldn't be realistic and it wouldn't be fair to give anyone such hopes," TÜ Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Aune Valk clarified on the university's Facebook page. "Considering the photo shared with the news, it's understandable that graduation ceremonies are one of the most infectious events — lots of people, all close together, and they come from all over Estonia and then go back home again."
Referring to traditional graduation photos that are popular among graduating students, Valk added that nobody has banned small numbers of people getting dressed up and taking a photo with their diploma in front of the university's main building.
Graduates will be able to pick up their diplomas from their respective faculties in the second half of June, with exact times and locations to be sent to all graduating students as well as posted on the university's website.
"Diplomas can also be picked up by an authorized representative if necessary, and diplomas can also be mailed upon request," the school added.
As of Friday afternoon, no other major universities in Estonia had yet publicly announced plans regarding graduation ceremonies for the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.
TÜ to continue spring semester online
TÜ also announced that its spring semester studies would continue online through the end of the semester.
"In courses where it is possible to arrange virtual studies, we will continue this way through the end of the semester," the school wrote. "We hope that when the coronavirus recedes, it will be possible, as in other schools, to reinstate studies in small groups in the second half of May. With this, we mean labs and, if necessary, exams, i.e. activity that is difficult or impossible to arrange via computer."
The university noted that final decisions regarding the extent and timing of the restoration of studies would be made after consulting with the Ministry of Education and Research, and that students would be sent more exact information regarding specific courses.
Editor: Aili Vahtla