By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff
Northeastern University plans to ask its roughly 5,000 graduates to forgo the traditional handshake as they collect their diplomas during Friday's commencement ceremonies to prevent the spread of swine flu.
(Globe file photo)
University officials made the decision this morning in consultation with Boston’s Department of Public Health and will alert graduates via e-mail this afternoon.
“There are no confirmed cases of swine flu that is in any way connected to Northeastern. We are acting out of an abundance of caution,” said Michael Armini, a university spokesman.
The university is also requesting graduates and family members to stay home if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Northeastern is expecting about 16,000 people to attend its undergraduate ceremony Friday morning at TD Banknorth Garden, which is expected to be one of the largest gatherings in Boston tomorrow as the graduation season kicks off. About 5,000 people are expected for an afternoon ceremony for graduate students in the university’s Matthews Arena. Both are indoor events.
The university is also stocking up on hand sanitizers – “as much as we can possibly obtain,” Armini said – and plans to make them readily available during both graduations.
Students will still have an opportunity on stage to get their picture taken with the dean – so long as they keep their hands to themselves.