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Penn students celebrate their graduation at the last in-person commencement in May 2019.

Credit: Son Nguyen

Penn has expanded the pool of students who will be eligible to participate in the University's in-person commencement ceremony on May 17.

Undergraduate students who completed their graduation requirements in August or December 2020 will now be able to participate in the in-person commencement, according to an email sent to all eligible students on Tuesday morning by Vice President and University Secretary Medha Narvekar, Vice Provost for University Life Mamta Motwani Accapadi, and Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé.

"We are hopeful that every graduating senior who wants to participate in commencement can do so," University officials wrote.

In order to participate, students must enroll in the Penn Cares COVID-19 testing program by the week of April 5, according to the email. Those who are already enrolled in the program must continue testing twice weekly until commencement, and all others who wish to participate will be required to test weekly during the month of April and twice weekly starting the week of May 3 so that they will be able to present a green PennOpen Pass by May 17.

No students hoping to attend in-person commencement are exempt from enrolling in the Penn Cares testing program and the University will not accept negative COVID-19 test results from other locations or vaccination sites as a substitute for enrolling in the Penn Cares program.

The administrators wrote that students who are not currently enrolled in the testing program can begin scheduling COVID-19 tests as soon as they wish, so long as it is by April 5.

Despite the fact that these requirements will ensure that students who want to participate in commencement stay in the Philadelphia area for several weeks before May 17, the University does not recommend traveling to Philadelphia only for the sole purpose of attending commencement.

While the University expanded the list of students eligible to attend, students in the Class of 2020 are still not invited to the ceremony. Penn previously announced plans to further postpone an in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 due to campus and local health guidelines limiting travel from outside the Philadelphia area. 

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