A Message to the Class of 2021 Regarding In-Person Commencement

March 23, 2021

We write with important updates and clarifications to previous communications about the May 17, 2021 Commencement exercises. We are pleased to share that we have expanded the pool of potentially eligible participants, which now includes:

  • Undergraduate students who completed all graduation requirements in August 2020
  • Undergraduate students who completed all graduation requirements in December 2020
  • All current seniors completing graduation requirements in May 2021, including those who have been on campus, off campus in West Philadelphia, and/or who have spent this semester at home or in other locations.

The above groups are potentially eligible, but participation in Commencement is not automatic.

We remain deeply concerned by positive COVID-19 cases in our student community. An outbreak could derail our intent to host an in-person Commencement. We implore you as seniors to minimize risk and make thoughtful decisions. We need you to maintain the health and safety of our community.

All students wishing to participate in Commencement must meet the following requirements:

  • Begin or continue Penn Cares screening testing no later than the week of April 5:

    • Students currently participating in Penn Cares are expected to continue their current protocol of twice weekly testing until Commencement
    • Students who had not been testing thus far because they had not had a significant presence on campus this semester will be required to test weekly during the month of April and twice weekly starting the week of May 3 and until Commencement
  • Present a green PennOpen Pass on May 17

Instructions about scheduling tests in Penn Cares for August and December 2020 graduates will be forthcoming.

We understand that the above requirements compel students not currently on campus or in West Philadelphia to travel to the area in April, and for some, to remain in Philadelphia for several weeks in anticipation of the May 17 Commencement exercises. This requirement is essential to our ensuring the health and safety of all attending the Commencement exercises.

To be clear: We cannot accept negative COVID-19 results from other testing locations. We cannot allow students to submit vaccination results in lieu of Penn Cares testing. Any student wishing to participate in-person on May 17th must be part of Penn Cares testing in the weeks leading to Commencement.
All students intending to participate in Commencement must register to attend. You will receive an invitation by Friday April 2 to your Penn email. Please read and respond in a timely manner.

Students not currently on campus or in Philadelphia should discuss these requirements with their families. We encourage you to review the Commencement FAQ.

Those who are not currently in Philadelphia and/or not enrolled in Penn Cares will need to gain access to the COVID Scheduler to book their first and subsequent testing appointments. More information on the student testing program can be found on the Student Testing Resources webpage.
We remain sorry that we cannot invite family and friends to Commencement, but we appreciate your understanding the unique challenges of hosting this event during a pandemic.
We are hopeful that every graduating senior who wants to participate in Commencement can do so. And we are confident that all of you will help us keep our community, and our West Philadelphia neighbors safe and healthy.

Medha Narvekar, Vice President and University Secretary
Mamta Motwani Accapadi, Vice Provost for University Life
Benoit Dubé, Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer

Last Updated 03/23/2021 - 16:21