Commencement, Senior Days, New COVID-19 Guidance

To the Bowdoin community,
As a result of new guidance issued yesterday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and changes in Maine public health protocols also announced yesterday (and updated today) that take effect on Monday, May 24, the College is adjusting some of our health and safety protocols, including those in place for “Senior Days” (May 26–28) and Commencement (May 29).
Additional details appear below, but the highlights include:
  • Beginning on Monday, May 24, face coverings, physical distancing, and restrictions on the size of gatherings will no longer be required OUTSIDE on campus;
  • There will be no limit on the number of graduating student family members or their other invited guests at Commencement; and
  • Graduating students who have been studying remotely may now come to campus on Wednesday, May 26.
At this time, we are NOT changing our health and safety protocols for indoor spaces. Face coverings, physical distancing, and restrictions on the size of gatherings remain in place while indoors. Additionally, the campus will remain closed to those not in the College’s COVID-19 testing program until Commencement day (Saturday, May 29), with the exception of graduating seniors who have been studying remotely, who will be permitted to come to campus starting Wednesday, May 26.
The following adjustments have been made for Commencement (Saturday, May 29) and for “Senior Days” (Wednesday, May 26–Friday, May 28):


  • The College will no longer limit the number of guests of graduating seniors who can attend Commencement, as long as the weather permits us to hold the ceremony outdoors.
  • Guests will be limited to those attending at the invitation of graduating students; we will not be able to accommodate alumni (other than graduating student family members or those specifically invited by graduating students) or members of the public at the Commencement ceremony.
  • The previously announced limit of two guests per graduating student will remain in effect if extreme weather forces us to hold the ceremony in Watson Arena, so students should keep their two tickets for that possibility.
  • A section of distanced seating will be available on the Quad for those who prefer to be physically distant from others.
  • Currently, face coverings are encouraged during the Commencement Exercises but will not be required.
  • Each graduating student will have the option to order up to four (4) boxed lunch tickets for their guests, which will be provided at no charge. Boxed lunches will be available for pick-up immediately following the Commencement Exercises in a tent located behind the Farley Field House.

Protocols that are NOT changing: 

  • Guests and others who are not part of the College’s COVID-19 testing program—including students who have been studying remotely—will still not be permitted inside College facilities, including residence halls; temporary restroom facilities will be provided along South Campus Drive.
  • All faculty and staff who are participating in or volunteering at Commencement (including those already in the Broad PCR testing program) will still be required to receive a negative antigen test on Friday, May 28, at Farley Field House (11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).
  • We will still be providing live comprehensive online coverage of the Commencement Exercises for family members and other members of the Bowdoin community who cannot attend in person.

Senior Days

  • All “Senior Days” events will be held outdoors.
  • Graduating students who have been studying remotely are now welcome to be on campus beginning on Wednesday, May 26 (one day sooner than previously announced). Additional details on the programs that will be offered during “Senior Days” will be forthcoming from Dean Lohmann.
  • Students will be required to be tested for COVID-19 (see below).
  • All students will receive a bracelet after their first “Senior Days” COVID-19 test and will be required to wear them throughout the week.
  • Students currently in the College’s COVID-19 testing program will have a Broad PCR test on Tuesday, May 25.
  • Students who have been studying remotely who wish to be on campus on Wednesday, May 26, will be required to receive an antigen test upon arrival in order to participate in that day’s activities.
  • All graduating students will receive antigen tests on Thursday and Friday.
It is important to note that Bowdoin’s health and safety protocols differ slightly from the CDC guidance announced yesterday, and the Maine guidance also announced yesterday and updated today. Our protocols are in place as the best way to ensure that all the care and attention practiced so successfully by members of our community this semester can culminate in a full Commencement ceremony and “Senior Days” celebration for our graduating students. As always, we will be monitoring conditions on campus, in our local community, and in Maine and will make other adjustments as warranted. And we will be back in touch in the coming days with information about how the changes in federal and state guidelines will affect Bowdoin’s post-Commencement health and safety protocols.
Thank you for your cooperation and continued vigilance as we near the end of the semester.
All the best,
Mike Ranen
COVID-19 Resource Coordinator