Update on Commencement 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Below is a message we sent to seniors today to update them on our initial plans for Commencement 2021, including our testing protocols. We have also included information about protocols for family members or guests who plan to attend the in-person ceremony on May 20. 

If you plan to attend Commencement and you are already part of the College’s testing program, then you need to be sure to test on Monday, May 17 or Tuesday, May 18. When you test on one of these days, you will be given a lanyard that will be your credential to access Tempel Green for the May 20 ceremony.

If you plan to attend Commencement and are not already part of the testing program at the College, you will need to come to campus on Monday, May 17 or Tuesday, May 18 to be tested. You will need to be tested even if you are fully vaccinated, as at the moment, we are still testing all employees even if they are vaccinated. If you have had COVID-19 within 90 days, you do not need to be tested, but you need to go to the Testing Center and show documentation of your confirmed COVID-19 positive test or diagnosis. When you go to the Testing Center on one of these days, you will be given a lanyard that will be your credential to access Tempel Green. 

The Testing Center will be open for testing on May 17 and May 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and you do not need to make an appointment on these days. Seniors will be testing each of these days from 8:30 to noon, so it would be helpful if you can go to the Testing Center in the afternoon. If there is an extenuating circumstance that prevents you from coming to the Testing Center on May 17 or 18, please notify Sarah Cardwell (scardwel@conncoll.edu) in order to make arrangements for you to take a Binax rapid result test on May 20.

We continue to work on the many details involved in coordinating these end-of-the-year events and we will keep you updated in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please visit our Commencement FAQ page, which is regularly updated and provides important information for faculty and staff. 

Thank you for your patience and your ongoing support of our students. 


Victor Arcelus

Dean of Students 

Dear Students,

We are writing to follow up on President Bergeron’s letter about your May 20 Commencement ceremony and senior celebrations. The Commencement committee has been working through the many details associated with senior celebration activities and the on-campus Commencement ceremony and we would like to share some information about the plans. It is important to note that the Commencement ceremony will be livestreamed for graduates and guests who are not able to be on campus on May 20.

Senior Celebrations

After finals end on Monday, May 17, everyone’s attention will focus on celebrating your years at Conn.

During the day on Tuesday and Wednesday, there will be a series of events to celebrate your academic and cocurricular accomplishments (more details will follow). There will also be three evening celebrations:

  • Monday, May 17–Senior Toast on Chapel Green 

  • Tuesday, May 18–Pub Night in the Arboretum 

  • Wednesday, May 19–Lily Pad in the Arboretum 

Commencement Day and Registering Your Guests

The Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 20 will be on Tempel Green and will start at 3 p.m. 

Please note that you must register your two guests using this form no later than April 19. This information is critical to developing our Commencement plans. Once we have collected this information from you, we will send a printed Commencement invitation to each of your guests at their home address.

Below are some of the logistics for the day: 

  • Guests will first need to go to the Testing Center at the Athletic Center between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and noon at their appointment time. Students will make an appointment time for their two guests using the CoVerified app (more information below).

  • Guests will be able to find seats on Tempel Green between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tempel Green will not be accessible before 1 p.m. The ceremony procession will begin at 2:15 p.m.

  • Guests will be permitted on campus during the morning hours and after Commencement to help you pack your belongings. One guest per student will be allowed in the residence hall. Please note that you will need to be moved out of your room by 10 p.m. on May 20. If there is a special need to delay your departure, you can request a late departure by emailing housing@conncoll.edu

  • On Commencement day, students (not guests) will have access to a brunch and dinner in Harris. Guests and students are also free to eat in the New London area before and after the Commencement ceremony.   

Testing and COVID Protocols


To keep everyone healthy and safe, we will begin PCR testing seniors every day (in the morning) beginning Saturday, May 15, and continuing through Wednesday, May 19. Once you complete your daily test, you will receive a bracelet at the Testing Center to signify that you have completed testing that day. Please note that if you miss a test, you will not be able to participate in the senior celebration event planned for that night of the missed test and the following night’s event. If you miss testing on Wednesday, May 19, you will not be able to participate in the Commencement Ceremony on May 20. Remember that if you test positive on any day, you will be moved to isolation housing and unable to participate in the in-person commencement ceremony.

Seniors who are studying remotely or who completed their coursework in December 2020 may participate in senior celebrations and Commencement. A separate message was already sent to these students from the Office of Residential Education and Living explaining the options on how to return to campus.


Two guests are allowed on campus on Thursday, May 20. To access the main part of campus, all guests will need to first proceed to the College’s Testing Center at the Athletic Center to verify one of the following:

Vaccination Based Access

Show proof of being fully vaccinated, which means being two weeks past their second Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot or one week past the Johnson & Johnson shot. 


Test Based Access

Show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from within 72 hours of arrival on campus on Thursday, May 20. If they are unable to access a COVID-19 PCR test and get the result within 72 hours of arrival they may request a Binax Rapid Result Test at the Testing Center on Thursday, May 20. These tests will be available onsite at no cost. When you complete the guest registration form, please note whether your guests will need a Binax Rapid Result Test, as these tests need to be ordered in advance.


Recent COVID-19 Diagnosis Based Access

Show proof of being diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 90 days before May 20. 

The Testing Center will be open from 8:30 a.m. until noon on May 20. Students will need to make an appointment for their guests to access the Testing Center using the CoVerified app. We will notify you when we will open up a special calendar within CoVerified for this purpose. It is critically important that all guests have a Testing Center appointment in order to avoid long wait times. 

Once the verification process is complete, each guest will receive a color-coded lanyard that signifies that they are attending the ceremony. A different lanyard will be given to the guest who is permitted to enter the residence hall to assist you with the move-out process. 

Please keep in mind that the College’s safety protocols will continue. All participants must wear masks at all times unless actively eating or drinking, and everyone must adhere to our social distancing protocols by maintaining a six-foot distance from each other (seniors and others who are part of the College’s testing protocol may be 3 feet apart outside). Seating on Tempel Green will be arranged in a socially distant way.  

Upcoming Meetings

We recognize that you will have questions about Commencement activities, so we are planning a series of meetings that begin this month. These meetings will give us an opportunity to share our plans for senior celebration events and Commencement and to answer your questions. Please note that we will also hold a similar town hall for your family members and guests who will be attending the ceremony.

  • Student Meeting (Zoom Link) - Wednesday, April 14 at 9 p.m.

  • Family/guest meeting (Zoom Link) - Wednesday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m.

The upcoming student meeting next week is optional, but there will be additional meetings in May that will be required. During these meetings, we will go into detail about how the senior celebration events and the Commencement ceremony will operate.

We will provide additional updates in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please continue to check the 2021 Commencement FAQs that we are updating regularly. And, you are welcome to send any questions you have about Commencement to events@conncoll.edu

Thank you for your patience as we work through these details and for your tremendous support in helping to keep the prevalence of COVID-19 low on our campus. Go Camels!


Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students

Merrill Collins
Chair, 2021 Commencement Committee