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Why UTEP moved graduation ceremonies online, but allowed fans at football games

EL PASO, Texas -- ABC-7 is learning more about how UTEP came to the decision to move graduation ceremonies online, instead of holding it in-person.

Graduations were just one of several events affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The spring commencement ceremony that typically takes place in May had to be postponed.

The plan was then to combine the Spring and Summer commencements with a ceremony at the Sun Bowl on Sept. 12.

But that too was changed, instead UTEP will have an online virtual ceremony on Saturday.

The reason is UTEP felt an in-person ceremony of that size would have put people at risk, but what about football games?

UTEP is allowing fans at homes games at a reduced capacity of about 9,000 fans.

Several soon-to-be graduates reached out to ABC-7 wanting to know why people couldn't attend an in-person graduation ceremony at the Sun Bowl, yet fans could attend a football game.

A UTEP spokesman told ABC-7 that UTEP just doesn't have the capacity to test the more than 3,000 graduates for Covid-19 the day before graduation, and they also can't require them to get tested.

It's a different story for football.

Players and coaches get tested for Covid-19 three times a week on game day week. That's a mandate by Conference USA.

If there's an outbreak, UTEP says a game can be canceled or postponed on short notice.

Last Saturday, a little more that 6,000 fans were in attendance for UTEP's season opener.

UTEP believes there's a difference when it comes to those who attend a football game, and those who attend a graduation.

UTEP spokesman Victor Arreola told ABC-7, "For fans, attending a football game is a choice. The parents of a new graduate, however, could reasonably feel compelled to attend their child's commencement ceremony. This could potentially put people in high-risk categories in a very difficult position."

UTEP added that those graduating this year will have the opportunity to "walk" at a future graduation ceremony.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Adrian Ochoa

Adrian Ochoa is ABC-7’s Sports Director.


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