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Skidmore College

Commencement 2021 Update

April 9, 2021

Dear Skidmore Community, 

As I shared in my most recent email regarding Commencement 2021, the College has been considering options for safely holding a number of pre-Commencement events, particularly during Senior Week. 

Our highest priority is the health and safety of our community and ensuring each member of the Class of 2021 can walk across the stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) on May 22, provided that state and local health and safety guidelines allow, to receive their degree in person. If we can achieve this, it will be a significant accomplishment.

Many events are already being planned and scheduled in a virtual format. However, depending on the alert level and health circumstances in May, a limited number of small gatherings and events might be permitted for those who wish to hold in-person gatherings. 

I write to share guidelines for any informal or formal events held Friday, May 14, through Saturday, May 22, immediately prior to and during Senior Week, assuming the College is operating at an Alert Level 1 or 2 at that time. These guidelines apply to all College events during this period, whether academic or student-run. 

Informal Gatherings

  • Small-group gatherings of no more than 10 individuals will be permitted outdoors and in designated areas only.
  • Individuals must be masked and socially distanced at all times.
  • Individuals are asked to gather outside whenever possible.

Please note: Off-campus students must meet all guidance expected of on-campus students. Students living off campus may not be in campus housing. Students in campus housing may not visit off-campus residences.

Formal Gatherings

All formal gatherings (meetings, events, celebrations, programs) should be related to Commencement or the Class of 2021 only during this time period.

They must be registered and approved through the Scheduling Office by May 13. Instructions are available on the website, or you may contact the Scheduling Office via email with questions. Only select locations, both indoors and outdoors, will be available to reserve. Availability may be limited, so faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to submit requests as soon as possible.

Formal gatherings may include events such as academic departmental receptions for seniors, senior class-sponsored programs, and Campus Life and Engagement events.

Please note: With the exception of two events sponsored by Campus Life and Engagement (Senior Fun Day on May 19 and a drive-in movie on May 21) that are currently under consideration, we anticipate that only a limited number of formal gatherings will be approved or permitted after Tuesday, May 18. In addition:

  • In-person, outdoor gatherings will be limited to 50 people or fewer per designated outdoor space.
  • In-person, indoor gatherings will be limited to 25 people or fewer. Rare exceptions may be considered (allowing up to 30 participants with assigned and fixed seating), if approved by the appropriate vice president in partnership with Health and Wellness.
  • All faculty, staff, and students must be part of the College’s regular COVID-19 testing program and must follow all certification protocols to attend events.
  • All student attendees/participants must present CoVerified compliance confirmation to attend.
  • All health and safety guidelines must be adhered to, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and disinfecting surfaces and shared items.
  • All student-organized events must have a trained health and safety coordinator present at any in-person gathering. One safety coordinator is required for every 10 individuals in attendance. Events organized by faculty or staff must have a designated faculty or staff member who will be responsible for ensuring compliance with health and safety protocols.
  • Organizers must record attendance and meeting/event location and provide assigned seating charts for potential contact tracing purposes.
  • No food or drink (catered or otherwise) will be permitted at events. Food can be picked up and consumed within living spaces.  

In addition, the following guidelines will be in place May 14-22:

COVID-19 Testing

  • ALL students MUST get tested twice on campus during Senior Week, on Monday, May 17, and Thursday, May 20.
  • Remote students coming to campus for Senior Week and/or Commencement must provide proof of negative pre-arrival testing within 72 hours of travel and test again at Skidmore on their day of arrival.
  • Remote students returning to campus cannot arrive earlier than Monday, May 17, and must depart by Sunday, May 23.
  • Students traveling internationally must meet all CDC travel requirements and must quarantine off campus for 10 days before arriving to campus.
  • Faculty/staff approved to attend Commencement must test on Thursday, May 20.

No Visitors

  • Personal and non-essential visitors are not permitted to enter campus buildings or attend College events or functions, including the graduation ceremony.
  • Parents and families may opt to travel to Saratoga Springs to pick up their students, but they will not be permitted to enter campus buildings or grounds during SeniorWeek or to attend the graduation ceremony.
  • Information regarding move-out policies and procedures will be shared with students and families when information is available.


  • Seniors are not permitted to sponsor any underclass students to remain on campus for Senior Week or Commencement.
  • Departments may sponsor students providing support and services for Senior Week activities.


  • Individuals should restrict any travel to emergency and essential travel.

Seniors not in compliance with testing, the guidelines outlined above, or other COVID-19 Student Pledge expectations will not be permitted to attend Senior Week activities.

Students not in compliance with testing requirements, or who test positive for COVID-19 during Senior Week, or who are required to quarantine as a result of close contact, will NOT be allowed to attend Commencement.  

To all our students, especially our seniors as we approach Commencement: please exercise caution, follow all health and safety guidelines, and know that your choices about how, when, where, and with whom you gather can significantly impact your and your classmates’ ability to receive your degrees in person on May 22.

Let's make it to Commencement — the ultimate gathering and celebration of your achievements — by taking care, together.


Marc Conner