Graduation 2021 is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 5. Due to the pandemic, there are many safety guidelines and practices necessary to execute a successful in-person event of this size. The information below is guided by federal, state, town, and School COVID-19 guidelines and protocols to help facilitate the health and safety of all participants.
This document will be updated regularly as additional details are confirmed.
If you have any questions please call or email Lisa Brown, director of events and special projects.
Who can attend Graduation?
We remain committed to hosting in-person Graduation celebrations for the Class of 2021. As you are aware, many “countdown” events have already taken place and more are in the works! The majority of these events will remain closed to the immediate Hotchkiss community; however, family members and other guests are invited to Commencement on Saturday, June 5.
How many guests can graduates have?
Each senior will be able to invite a selection of guests to campus to join in our Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 5. Our goal is to accommodate as many guests as we possibly can, but in order to do so we need families to complete this registration estimate survey no later than Friday, April 23. We will reach out in early May to confirm final guest counts and provide additional details about the overall celebration.
Will underclassmen be present?
No. In order to safely invite outside guests to participate in the Commencement ceremony, we are holding to our earlier decision to send the younger students home on June 3 and 4. We will have many celebratory events leading up to Graduation that will include them. Siblings of graduating seniors may remain on campus if they are unable to move out between the official move out days and Commencement.
Can family members and outside guests come to campus prior to Commencement?
Access to campus is strictly limited to faculty, staff, and students participating in the School’s on-campus testing bubble. Campus access for guests of graduates will be restricted to the designated Commencement Ceremony location and associated parking areas prior to the ceremony on Saturday, June 5.
What is the attire for Commencement?
It is a long-standing Graduation tradition at Hotchkiss that Seniors wear white dresses or blue blazers, white pants, a blue or white dress shirt, and a tie. Seniors are also welcome to wear celebratory culturally-appropriate attire should they prefer to do so.
How can we celebrate our graduates in advance?
We are preparing graphic elements that can be downloaded, as well as print files for yard signs to help you celebrate graduates (see Hotchkiss graphics section below). Please check the Graduation web page regularly for updates.
Where will Commencement take place?
This year’s ceremony will take place on Hoyt Field (opposite the baseball diamond). This location was chosen to allow for guests and accommodate physical distancing, but will also allow us to livestream Commencement for those who are unable to attend.
What is the schedule?
The Commencement Ceremony will start at 10 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 5, on Hoyt Field, weather permitting. It usually lasts just over one hour. In the event of a passing rain shower, we reserve the right to delay the ceremony. In the case of severe weather, we will hold the ceremony for the seniors in the Ford Tennis building. In this case, visiting families would be asked to view the event via livestream from different locations on campus.
What will happen in the case of really bad weather?
We will be monitoring the weather closely and reserve the right to delay the start time in the case of a passing storm system. We sincerely hope that severe weather will not prevent us from being outside, but we must be prepared. If we have to move indoors, the Seniors will graduate in the Ford Tennis building. In accordance with COVID safety protocols, and due to limited space, families and guests will not be able to join them in that building. Instead, you will be offered assigned indoor seating in the MAC and other campus buildings where you will be able to watch via livestream. Please bring a laptop or other viewing device just in case. We sincerely hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, we will have space for you and want to make sure that you are prepared.
Where will guests sit?
Guests will be allocated their own 6’x6’ family zone on Hoyt Field. These zones will be mapped out and marked with adequate space for proper social distancing within groups. We ask that all guests remain masked even within their designated zone.
What happens in the case of really bad weather?
We will monitor the weather closely with the goal of having the ceremony outside. We reserve the right to delay the ceremony in the case of a passing storm system. In the case of severe weather, we are considering possible indoor options in the MAC and will provide updates closer to the date.
Will Commencement be livestreamed?
Yes, Commencement and other closed Graduation events will be livestreamed to allow those unable to attend to view the event. Details about each program and how to access the broadcast will be sent to graduates and their families in early June.
We are planning an outdoor event to minimize transmission risks associated with an in-person event. Families and guests are expected to adhere to expectations of masking and distancing while they are on campus for the event, regardless of vaccination status. We also expect families to comply with Connecticut and US travel protocols related to COVID-19, which may require quarantine before attending the ceremony.
Will vaccination be required in order to attend Commencement?
The Hotchkiss School recommends that all who are eligible seek vaccination. However, due to uneven access to vaccines across the country and around the world, as well as various personal health reasons that prevent vaccine use, we are not requiring vaccination to attend Commencement.
Will guests need to submit a negative COVID-19 test prior to Commencement?
At this time we do not plan to require a negative COVID-19 test to attend Commencement. We are expecting families to adhere to other mitigation measures such as masking and distancing. Please note that some guests may need a negative COVID-19 test in order to comply with Connecticut or US travel protocols for COVID-19 (see links below).
If I have been vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask?
Yes, all in-person attendees must observe the School’s health guidelines for face coverings and physical distancing, regardless of their vaccination status. The vaccines are highly effective, but as many as one in ten vaccinated people can still contract COVID-19. Anyone who is unable or unwilling to wear a mask or comply with other protocols will be asked to leave the event.
Seniors are expected to be off campus by 6 p.m. on June 5. While they will be busy with many fun class bonding activities between the end of classes and Graduation, we will be sure to give them time to pack.
We strongly encourage those who have been approved to visit campus over the weekends in May to take home a carload of student belongings before Graduation. To sign up, please click here. This will make moving out on June 5 easier and less stressful. Students who need to ship their belongings can begin that process on May 26. For more information on the UPS services, please click here. Families are responsible for removing all student belongings; there is no summer storage available for seniors who want to pass on furniture to underclass students.
Will guests be able to come onto campus to help their graduate move out, either before or after the Commencement ceremony?
Families will not be allowed to come onto campus prior to the ceremony. If the COVID conditions in this region allow, it is our intention to resume family visits this spring; if you visit campus prior to Graduation, we strongly encourage you to start taking your student’s belongings home.
Our goal is to bring the Class of 2020 back to campus next summer for a unique 2-year Reunion celebration. More details will be communicated to the Class of 2020 in the coming months - we look forward to welcoming them back to campus next June!