Princeton University plans to host an outdoor commencement ceremony in May

Princeton University is planning to hold an outdoor commencement ceremony on May 16 at the Princeton Stadium, school officials announced Thursday.

“The university considered a range of options for commencement this year, including only hosting a virtual event, and decided to prioritize planning for an in-person ceremony. Based on current guidelines, the university believes it can host a meaningful commencement experience for its graduating students,” reads the announcement. “We will continue to monitor the public health situation and state guidelines in the weeks ahead — should circumstances change significantly, we may need to pivot to a virtual commencement ceremony.”

Undergraduate seniors who have been living on the Princeton University campus or in the Mercer County region who have been part of the school’s asymptomatic testing protocol and who have not had housing access to campus revoked because of a social contract violation will be invited to participate in the commencement, school officials said. Graduate students who have received or will receive a Ph.D. or final master’s degree during the current 2020-21 academic year who are on-campus or in the local area and are part of the university’s asymptomatic testing program are also allowed to attend the ceremony.

University officials also hope to invite enrolled seniors and graduating master’s degree and doctoral students who are currently studying remotely to participate in the commencement ceremony on campus if state guidelines and travel restrictions make it possible. School officials are also looking at whether it will be possible to have guests attend the commencement. “The university is discussing options with state authorities and will share more information as it becomes available,” reads the announcement. “Should guests be allowed, there would be a maximum of two guests per student. Families are encouraged not to make non-refundable travel arrangements.”

The event would be held in compliance with social distancing and public health protocols set by the state of New Jersey, school officials said.

Other end-of-year events for seniors in the Class of 2021 will take place virtually. School officials said an in-person ROTC commissioning ceremony is currently being planned for graduating seniors participating in the ROTC program.

University officials previously announced that the annual alumni reunion weekend will be held virtually again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.