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In virus boon, Belgian students graduate at UNESCO site

The coronavirus pandemic has put a massive damper on student life across the globe. But in Brussels it has one boon: graduation at a UNESCO Word Heritage location.

The Belgian capital has made its world-famous Grand-Place square available as an open-air location for nearly 4,000 students from two Brussels universities for the academic ceremony.

On Wednesday, graduates marched across the 1st-floor balcony of the Gothic city hall as their names were announced. Pandemic restrictions limited guest invitations to only two per graduate.

Two sisters, both engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, walk across the balcony of the Gothic town hall during a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)

Masters of Engineering graduate Saskia Lebegge said it was a happy conclusion to “a never-ending circle of getting up, opening and closing our computers and going back to sleep while wearing the same sweater for weeks.”

With the U2 song “Beautiful Day” playing in the background, students stood proudly together on the podium in front of the crowd.

There are multiple ceremonies being held throughout the week to spread out the crowds. Each is limited to about 200 graduates.

Engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, throw their student caps in the air after a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)

Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place not all could manage that in time.

Follow AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

An engineering graduate of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, looks from between mortarboards during a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)

Engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, are silhouetted against the sky during a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)

Two engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, take photos of each other prior to a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)

An engineering graduate of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, waits for his name to be called during a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)

Engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, walk by a sign that reminds them to wear a mask inside the Gothic town hall during a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)

Family members wave a Congolese flag and clap as they hear the name of their son announced, during a graduation ceremony for engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP PhotoVirginia Mayo)