Update regarding updated CDC guidance

Dear Members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 and families,

As you certainly are aware, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued updated guidance related to public health and COVID-19, including that people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine no longer need to wear masks or physically distance in most situations. Earlier today, leaders in the St. Louis region announced that they will follow the CDC recommendations and lift many restrictions that have been in place in the city and county. 

You’re probably wondering how these changes might affect Washington University’s Commencement ceremonies, which are planned for this month for the Classes of 2020 and 2021. We are making the following updates to the protocols that we had originally put in place for these events: 

  • Graduates will be allowed to invite as many guests as they would like to attend the Commencement ceremonies.
  • Per guidance from our COVID Monitoring Team and our local health department, both of which advise wearing masks in large group situations, particularly when people’s vaccination status is unknown, we will still require masking for all faculty, staff, graduates and guests in attendance. 

At this late date, unfortunately, we will not be able to combine ceremonies to have one large Commencement, move the ceremonies to a different location, or change the format of the ceremony program. The logistics are already firmly in place for multiple ceremonies and we have significant contractual obligations that we are required to fulfill. So while this will still be an unusual year for Commencement, we are pleased to at least be able to welcome more friends and family to help us celebrate our graduates’ outstanding accomplishments.

Obviously, this is a rapidly changing situation and we will continue to monitor developments closely and communicate with you about any significant changes. We will add new information to the May Ceremonies FAQ page on the Commencement website as details become available. You also are welcome to contact the Commencement team at commencement@wustl.edu with specific questions.

As always, we’re grateful for your patience and flexibility as we’ve all navigated the twists and turns of the pandemic during the past year. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of students, families and alumni to be our partners throughout this time and we’re thankful for your ongoing support. We’re proud of how we’ve all pulled together, and we look forward to celebrating with many of you in the coming weeks.


Beverly Wendland
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Robert M. Wild
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs