Updated: November 11, 2020
Dear Class of 2020,
We write to you with the difficult news that we must cancel our plans for Commencement on Sunday, November 22. This is deeply disappointing, but the risk to the health and safety of you and your family members is just too great.
Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, said yesterday that the state is approaching a “critical point” in COVID-19. Crawford County has seen fifty-four new cases since last Friday and for the second week in a row, the state listed our county as having “substantial transmission.” This is also true for many other counties in the state and for many of the places that you will be travelling from. As of last Friday, thirty-three states are on the PA travel quarantine list and although Ohio is not, the PA Department of Health is advising that non-essential travel to and from Ohio be limited.
We had hoped that effective public health measures — facial coverings, physical distancing, and hand washing — would allow for this ceremony to take place. These are the measures we have thus far successfully adopted at Allegheny College as part of our Gator Community of Mutual Care. On campus these measures are working, and although we have recently seen a small number of positive tests among the campus community, they have been limited and controllable via the public health measures we have in place. Unfortunately, our local success has not been more widely replicated.
When we met with your ASG class officers early in the planning process, they made it very clear on your behalf that health and safety was an overriding consideration, and we agreed that we should cancel the event if at any point we thought the risks outweighed the benefits. Despite having a very good plan for your Commencement, this is the global situation in which we find ourselves, which has led to the difficult decision this morning to cancel.
If you have already made travel or lodging arrangements, please cancel them as soon as possible so that you can take advantage of cancellation and refund policies. For the reasons detailed above, we ask that you please do not plan to come to Meadville on November 22.
What comes next for the Class of 2020? As we wrote to you on October 7, if the November ceremony would be cancelled, “we are committed to celebrating you in-person at some point, and in some way. President Link has been adamant about that in her directions to us all.” This remains true. But it is clear that we need the pandemic to abate before we make additional, concrete plans. We will be back in touch in the New Year, once we have a better sense of the world in the late spring and early summer.
Best wishes and be well, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
Ian Binnington, Dean of Curriculum and College Registrar
Lynn McManness-Harlan, Director, Conference & Event Services