With vaccines allowing many to return to somewhat normal lives and virus rates beginning to decline in spring of 2021, Merrimack College decided to go forward with an in-person commencement event. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, physical booklets were provided to attendees in order to allow them easy access to the schedule and list of graduates, speakers, and other important information. However, because transmission of the disease was still very much a concern, the college’s commencement office created a digital version to limit contact between individuals. This artifact is the digital program book for the 2021 Merrimack College undergraduate commencement ceremony, available for public download on the commencement office’s website.
The file lists the schedule, the names of the speakers, those involved in the procession, all of the graduating students organized by school, and information about the traditions of Merrimack College such as its history and ceremonial items. It is 20 pages long in downloadable PDF format. Because of its digital form, there is less potential for virus transmission that handling physical booklets would otherwise provide a vector for. The change from paper to PDFs is one of many safety precautions in place at the commencement despite the proliferation of vaccines. Handing out and passing around booklets could have spread the virus, thus undermining prevention measures such as socially-distanced seating.
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