Hillsdale College holding graduation as virus cases rise

HILLSDALE, Mich. (AP) — A small college in southern Michigan is holding a graduation ceremony this weekend, a decision that is stirring concerns about the coronavirus.

Hillsdale College is expecting more than 2,000 students, family members and others at the outdoor ceremony Saturday. Most schools canceled spring graduations or postponed them indefinitely.

The event is occurring as Michigan sees a spike in daily virus cases. The state health department reported 891 new cases Wednesday — the highest number since May 14.

“It just puts the Hillsdale community at increased risk,” Hillsdale County health officer Rebecca Burns told the Hillsdale Daily News. “I would assume these people are staying in our hotels and eating in our restaurants and potentially visiting our stores.”

The college said attendees will be wearing masks and will have their temperature checked. The school said it’s taking steps that “meet or exceed” recommendations from the World Health Organization.

“Commencement is the most significant event in the life of a college,” President Larry Arnn said in a written statement. “As old as the first universities, this milestone represents the conclusion of the college’s labor and also inaugurates an even greater undertaking: each graduate’s commencing to live a good and happy life in accordance with the highest principles, a life for which they have spent four years preparing.”