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Students to be allowed to have two guests at Commencement ceremonies in May

By Jack Margaros
@JackMargaros

Last week, the state of Massachusetts released special guidelines for outdoor gatherings related to Commencement exercises at colleges and universities. Fortunately for the Class of 2021, it will be granted the opportunity to hold in-person ceremonies.

Springfield College announced its latest updates on Tuesday morning on how Commencement will operate in May.

“Student input has been important and helpful in these decisions, including responses to the survey and student leader involvement on the Commencement Committee,” Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper said in a statement Tuesday morning. “You have been patient in awaiting these details and, while I know how much you wish we could celebrate as a complete campus community in a traditional Springfield College way, that we can be together at all is progress.”

The biggest development is the inclusion of guests. Students will be allotted two guests to witness the ceremony on Stagg Field. Guests will need to be registered and ticketed in advance, in addition to providing a negative test result prior to arriving on campus.

There will be a virtual opening ceremony on Friday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. This is a time to introduce the ceremonies to follow and have the President’s welcome and Commencement speaker speeches, along with other things leading up to the main events.

Saturday and Sunday, Springfield will host eight different commencement ceremonies, split up by schools. The schedule is as follows:

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Morning

  • Health Sciences Graduate Commencement
  • Health Sciences Undergraduate Commencement

Afternoon

  • Arts and Sciences Graduate Commencement
  • Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Commencement

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Morning

  • Physical Education, Performance and Sport Leadership Graduate Commencement
  • Physical Education, Performance and Sport Leadership Undergraduate Commencement

Afternoon

  • Social Work and Behavioral Sciences Graduate Commencement
  • Social Work and Behavioral Sciences Undergraduate Commencement

All of the traditional rhythms of commencement such as the processional, conferral of degrees, students having their name announced and getting to walk across the stage will still occur. Stagg Field allows for proper distancing of chairs, although families will be able to sit together in a pod.

“It’s not perfect, but we’ll try and make it as memorable as we can,” Potvin said.

Each ceremony will last 60-75 minutes, then students and guests will funnel out of Stagg immediately to allow for cleaning for the next ceremony. There will be spots around campus for graduates to take photos with their guests.

Students who have completed a degree application will receive an email on how to register guests.

As with anything planned during the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is fluid, and plans could change depending on evolving CDC or Commonwealth guidelines. Although, it is encouraging for seniors to be able to share this special moment with family members and friends in person.

“More information will be made available in the coming days and weeks ahead,” President Cooper said. “After such a challenging year, this celebration is something to look forward to and a wonderful way to celebrate your accomplishments.”

Photo Courtesy of Jack Margaros

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