The new mask guidance from the CDC, and the announcement from Gov. Tom Wolf that Pennsylvania would follow suit, made the commencement feel a step closer to life pre-covid.
"I'm just so grateful. I wouldn't be where I am without my parents, so I'm happy they're able to be here with me," said graduating senior Taylor Campbell.
Villanova sophomore Makayla Harden came with her grandmother to watch her mother graduate.
"I didn't think they were going to let us come. I thought they were going to do everything virtual. I'm excited for her. I've been waiting for this moment," said Harden.
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"I think also with the news yesterday we can put all of our minds at ease a bit about how safe it all is. I think all the parents get to revel in it too," said graduate Carlos Prats.
Villanova's Chief Academic Officer, Patrick Maggitti, said they made the decision for an in-person commencement two months ago.
"Sometimes we question the resilience of this generation, but they had to be so resilient and have such grit," Maggitti said of the class that endured a year of uncertainty.
This weekend kicks off several weekends of graduations in the region, and each school is handling commencement ceremonies differently as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.
Harcum College in Bryn Mawr has a graduating class of 330 students. The school made the decision to hold a drive-thru ceremony on Saturday.
Dean of Student Life, Ed Kovacs, was on-hand for preparations Friday.
"They will come in one car with their family excited about the day, and they will circulate down through our parking lots and come to our stage area which is being built right now. We were planning for both. We weren't sure how things were going to shake out so we thought this was the best middle ground for us to support our students and celebrate them," said Kovacs.
Every school has different rules and restrictions for their ceremony.
Not every state has announced their position on mask mandates and, additionally, businesses can implement their own guidance.