Students around the world have been forced to stay at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Many schools have even elected to remain closed until the end of the year. But what does this mean for students who were set to graduate?
In Japan, schools have mandated closures effective until after spring break, meaning all graduating students must miss their graduation ceremonies, which would have taken place in late March. A class of quarantined elementary students came up with an adorable, virtual solution: holding a graduation ceremony in Minecraft.
Entirely of their own volition, without the help of administration or teachers, these elementary kids organized the graduation they were scheduled to have in Minecraft.
Twitter user @backyennew posted a photo showcasing the Minecraft graduation ceremony hall his son built with his friends. “They spent all day online together playing games and laughing. I’m glad they all had fun,” he wrote.
The virtual ceremony hall they built also looks considerably accurate to a real-life one. The high-ceiling building is big and brightly-lit. Enormous windows scale the walls. A bright red carpet lines the middle aisle, serving as a walkway for the graduates.
In the same vein, US schools have also considered making their graduation ceremonies virtual. While they aren’t necessarily opting to host them on Minecraft, colleges have been entertaining the idea of adapting their commencement ceremonies for the screen.
The University of California, Irvine (UCI) and the University of Californa, Los Angeles (UCLA) recently announced the cancellation of their respective commencement ceremonies and revealed plans for making graduation a virtual ceremony. But after facing backlash from students in the form of multiple petitions, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block reneged the school’s decision to cancel commencement on Thursday. He apologized for not consulting students first before making his decision and expressed intent to communicate with student leadership in developing a new solution for commencement.
“We are committed to giving students the commencement they deserve,” Block wrote in his message to the UCLA community posted to Twitter. “We should have known the tremendous impact that this decision would have on our students and their loved ones and friends.”
While UCLA has listened to students and gone back to the drawing board, UCI has proceeded to explore the possibility of hosting a virtual ceremony. The decision has left many graduating seniors devastated, especially first-generation students who view commencement as symbolic to their unprecedented academic achievement.
While hosting a virtual college graduation ceremony has been done before, the circumstances under which these online ceremonies will take place are completely new. These Minecraft graduates are a heartfelt reminder that social distancing and self-isolation during a time as difficult as this one doesn’t necessarily have to take away all that we were looking forward to.