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Undergraduate Commencement 2021

Date, Time and Location

SUNDAY, MAY 9, 10 a.m. CDT
McCully Stadium

Two Guests Now Allowed Per Graduating Senior

Because of the Centers for Disease Control’s new public gathering guidance, alongside guidance from the Illinois Department of Health, we are now able to welcome two guests for each of our graduating seniors at our 2021 Commencement ceremonies.

Attendance Requirements

In order to attend, all guests are required to register online by Thursday, May 6 at midnight CDT and will need to meet at least one of two qualifying criteria: 1) a complete COVID-19 vaccination dated at least two weeks prior to being on campus (only Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines allowed); 2) a negative COVID–19 PCR test within 72 hours of the ceremony.

How To Watch Live and Recorded Event

Watch Commencement Live

 

Watch Recording After Commencement

Parent and Guest Commencement FAQs

What kind of COVID-19 test or vaccine is required to attend Commencement?

Due to Illinois State Health restrictions, each guest will need to meet at least one of two qualifying criteria:

1) a complete COVID-19 vaccination dated at least two weeks prior to being on campus (only Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines allowed);

2) a negative COVID–19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the ceremony. The PCR COVID-19 test is the only test we are allowed to accept in order to maintain attendance capacity. Antibody tests or other rapid antigen tests will not be accepted.

When is the earliest I can get tested to be counted within the 72-hour timeframe?

For Graduate School Commencement, your COVID-19 test must be taken no earlier than Wednesday, May 5 at 3 pm.

For Undergraduate Commencement, your COVID-19 test must be taken no earlier than Thursday, May 6 at 10 am.

Will I be allowed to attend if I have already had COVID-19?                      

Even if you have tested positive for COVID-19, you still must provide a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination to attend Commencement. See other questions for specific details on the timing for these requirements.

What if I received the final dose of my COVID-19 vaccine fewer than 14 days prior to Commencement?

If you received your final dose fewer than 14 days prior to Commencement on or before Sunday, April 25 for Grad School Commencement or on or before Monday, April 26 for the Undergraduate Commencement, you do not need to provide a negative PCR test at Commencement.

Where can I get tested in Wheaton?

Though Wheaton College cannot guarantee you will receive your results on time, we have had good results from “Let’s Get Checked” which is an at-home test delivered by UPS. You will need to order the test right away so you receive it in time for the results to be processed.  If you are arriving from out of the area, we do not recommend that you wait until you are in Wheaton to get the test, as the results take 48-72 hours to process. An additional option may be getting your test from a Wheaton healthcare provider, such as Northwestern Health Urgent Care in Wheaton, just a few miles from the College. Please note, however, that it is our understanding that you need to provide a doctor’s order to receive the test, ideally faxed in advance. If you intend to use a local Wheaton healthcare provider, call them well in advance to ensure you can meet their requirements.

How many guests are allowed at Commencement?

The Illinois Department of Health allows us to welcome two guests for each of our graduating students. We have coordinated this plan carefully with the City of Wheaton to maximize the number of guests allowed in this specific outdoor venue. While we are grateful that we can now accommodate guests, we truly regret that this late development may make it difficult for some of you to alter your plans in time to attend.

I am traveling with my family; can I bring my children to Commencement?

Each graduate is allowed two guests (any age) due to Illinois State capacity rules. For this reason, additional guests will not be allowed to attend Commencement, including siblings who are current Wheaton College students. The logistics of managing the required spacing for such a large crowd are highly complex, so we ask that non-approved guests not come to campus during the Commencement timeframe.

How do I register for Commencement?

Guests must complete the online registration form. You must register by Thursday, May 6 at midnight CDT in order to attend. We cannot promise that we can accommodate guests after that date.

 After I have registered online, when will I receive my Commencement tickets?

There are no printed tickets for Commencement. When you arrive at Guest Check-in before Commencement and present your proof of vaccination or negative PCR test, you will receive a handstamp which will allow you entrance to the stadium. To maintain State of Illinois requirements, entry and seating will be tightly controlled.

Where should I park?

Some campus parking and street parking will be available. Please review the 2021 Commencement Parking Plan.

Is handicap parking available near McCully Stadium?

Yes, there are limited handicap parking slots in the parking lot on the east side of Billy Graham Hall. Once inside McCully Stadium, ushers will direct those who require wheelchair access seating to a designated area. Each wheelchair seating spot has a seat for a guest to sit alongside.

Is the College providing campus shuttles to and from McCully Stadium?

Campus shuttles will not be available, so please be prepared to walk a distance from where you park to the stadium.

What do I need in order to check in?

First, all guests need to register online. Please pre-register before Thursday, May 6 at midnight CST. We cannot promise that we can accommodate guests after that date.

Due to Illinois State Health restrictions, all guests will need to meet at least one of two qualifying criteria: 1) a complete COVID-19 vaccination dated at least two weeks prior to being on campus (only Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines allowed); 2) a negative COVID–19 PCR test within 72 hours of the ceremony. The PCR COVID-19 test is the only test we are allowed to accept in order to maintain attendance capacity. Antibody tests or other rapid antigen tests will not be accepted.

When you arrive at Commencement check-in, you will be asked to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test. If you are not able to demonstrate that you meet one of these criteria, we are sorry, but you will not be permitted to attend Commencement.

Is a photo of my vaccination card or negative COVID-19 PCR test acceptable proof?

Yes, a photo is acceptable. 

Where do we check in?

Our Guest Check-in Tent will be located in the northeast corner of the Billy Graham Hall parking lot, just west of the stadium where Commencement will be held.

What are the check-in hours?

For Graduate School Commencement, the Guest Check-In Tent will be open Saturday from 12-2:30 pm. For Undergraduate Commencement, the Guest Check-in Tent will be open Sunday, May 9 from 7 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. The check-in process is highly complex, so please allow extra time to ensure that you are fully checked in before the stadium entrance closes. We encourage everyone to arrive at Guest Check-In as early as possible.

What time will the entrance gate open for Commencement?

For Graduate Commencement, the entrance gate will open Saturday at 1:30 pm. For Undergraduate Commencement, the gate will open Sunday at 8:30 am.

All guests will enter McCully Stadium through a single, designated gate and must show their official hand stamp to enter.

Will the entrance gate close before Commencement begins?

The gate will close, and no more guests allowed, promptly at 2:45 pm on Saturday for Graduate Commencement and at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday for Undergraduate Commencement, so please leave plenty of time to get checked in and settled in your seats. After the gate is closed, unseated guests will be directed to an alternate location on campus where they can watch a livestream of the ceremony.

Can I choose my seat in McCully Stadium?

Seating will be assigned onsite and guests will be directed to their assigned seats by Commencement ushers. If you wish to sit by a particular person, please plan to arrive with that person to be seated together. Saving seats will not be allowed. We ask that you keep distance between your party and the party seated next to you. Once you are seated, please stay in your seat until after Commencement is over and guests have been dismissed.

What kind of seating is available at McCully Stadium?

The bleachers in McCully Stadium are bench style. There are no seatbacks and the seats are metal, so you might want to bring a small blanket or cushion.

I have mobility challenges. What are the stairs like at the stadium?

Please be prepared to navigate the stadium steps. There are handrails, but the steps are very steep. Ushers will be on hand if you need assistance up and down the steps.

Is seating available for guests with physical disabilities?

Yes, but there is limited seating for guests with physical disabilities. Upon arrival, ushers will direct those who require wheelchair access seating to a designated area. Each wheelchair seating spot has a seat for a guest to sit alongside.

Where are the nearest restroom facilities?

There are restrooms under the football stands and we will have portable outdoor facilities in the same location.

Once I am seated can I remove my mask?

Even though we will be outside, this event is considered to be a “large gathering” in Illinois, so all guests must wear masks for the ceremony. If you need to eat or drink while seated, please lift your mask for a quick bite or sip, then replace your mask.

What happens if it rains?

Commencement will proceed rain or shine, so please come prepared for the possibility of rain. If there is lightning or severe weather, guests will be dismissed to their vehicles and students and faculty will be dismissed to pre-designated buildings on campus.

How will the College communicate with me the day of Commencement if the ceremony is delayed or interrupted due to severe weather?

The College will post information on the Commencement website, social media channels, and email communication will be sent to registered guests as quickly as possible.

Where can I meet my graduate after the ceremony?

Guests will be asked to remain seated until the graduates and faculty exit the stadium, then ushers will guide guests out of the stadium in an orderly fashion. To avoid congestion on the narrow sidewalk, please plan to meet your graduate on the front lawn of campus or another location away from the stadium.

Is campus dining available to guests?

Dining services on campus will not be available to guests at anytime due to COVID restrictions. There are plenty of restaurant options in and around the Wheaton area.

When is my graduate’s last available meal through campus dining services?

Student meal plans end with dinner on Sunday night, May 9.

When and where can we take photos on campus?

You are welcome to take photos on campus if you follow the College’s COVID-Safe protocols (when outside, you can remain unmasked if you are six feet or more away from people not in your family and masked if you are closer than six feet).

We strongly recommended that you take photos as early as possible in the days leading up to Commencement. If you can do this, it will help alleviate large groups congregating around Wheaton’s most beloved photo locations.

Will Commencement be livestreamed and recorded?

Yes. Family and friends can livestream the Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement programs as they occur at wheaton.edu/watchcommencement. You can also view Commencement afterward at www.youtube.com/wheatoncollege.