NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — In a letter expressing great sadness, Christopher Newport University’s president said commencement at the university would need to be postponed.

With the coronavirus still spreading in the United States, President Paul Trible said classes would also remain online for the rest of the semester. The school previously announced it would transition classes online until at least April 10.

The school aims to host “a full complement of events” for graduating seniors on the weekend of June 19. Commencement would take place at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 21, which is Father’s Day.

“Not since September 11, 2001, have I personally experienced so much sorrow and loss,” Trible wrote in an update.

Trible continued: “We all will miss the good and enriching times spent together on campus this spring. I am especially sad for our seniors because you have lost a magical time and you have earned the right to celebrate your hard work and all that you have achieved. Indeed, all of our students have lost opportunities for athletic competition, music and theater performances, Greek life, Paideia 2020, foreign study and the amazing array of activities that make life on our campus so meaningful and memorable.”

The school is working on answers for questions about refunds or credits for housing and dining costs.

Trible also said the provost and faculty are working on an alternative grading system for the spring semester.

“Every student will be allowed two additional courses for which they may earn a Pass/Fail grade this semester. These are not limited to elective courses,” Trible wrote.

The president continued: “Normally these academic and operational changes would be decided after weeks or months of consultation and discussion. However, this public health crisis is changing so rapidly that it demands quick, decisive action to protect the health and safety of our community. I know these changes are disruptive and difficult and we do not yet have answers to all of your questions. My promise to you is that we will work through these challenges and we will do it together.”

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