St. Olaf College has announced that the Class of 2021 will graduate in an in-person ceremony without guests on Saturday, May 29. President David Anderson ’74 sent an email to the graduating members of the St. Olaf community on April 15 announcing this year’s Commencement ceremony. The email included information regarding the schedule of events, caps and gowns, graduation applications and Senior Days.
To maintain the campus “bubble” and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the College is not permitting guests to attend the ceremony in person. This decision is a result of the limited space on campus that would not allow for all participants and guests to socially distance. Despite the distribution of vaccines, the College made the decision to close the ceremony to guests out of caution, and they continue to follow Minnesota Department of Health (MDC) protocols.
To accommodate for this change, the College will live-stream the 2021 Commencement and events, and graduates’ families and friends can also watch the events later in St. Olaf’s archived stream. The College will partner with the photography company GradImages to photograph each graduate as they exit the stage.
While the College will hold Commencement in person, there are changes to this year’s ceremony. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Olaf has instituted precautions following the guidance of MDH. Graduates must already be in St. Olaf’s campus bubble, meaning that they have to participate in COVID-19 testing and adhere to the Community Standards. However, seniors who are not on campus may still attend Commencement, but must quarantine and test negative prior to the ceremony.
The same COVID-19 regulations that apply to the Commencement ceremony also apply to the Illumination Ceremony, which will be held on May 28, and Baccalaureate, which is being held the morning of May 29. All events are scheduled to take place on the campus green/Mellby lawn; however, in the case of inclement weather, the College will hold Commencement in Tostrud Athletic Center.
For the students who graduated in 2020, the College has tentatively scheduled a commencement ceremony for Aug. 14, 2021. As more details become available and concrete, anyone who intended to participate in the 2020 ceremony will receive more information.
Similarly, as May 29 approaches, seniors should expect to receive more information from the Events Management Office and others involved in the planning of the 2021 Commencement in the coming weeks.