Graduates will be virtual, confirm school boards


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Public and Catholic school boards confirmed this week that grade 12 graduation ceremonies will not be held as a large group in person again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Depending on whether schools reopen or not, ceremonies can be virtual or involve driving events.

Confirming the news of virtual ceremonies for this year at a board meeting on Wednesday evening, the acting superintendent of schools for the Upper Canada District School Board, Marsha McNair, said the decision allows for fairness throughout the school district.

McNair said the board worked with a focus group of experienced school principals and local health partners to establish metrics that all schools could use when planning for graduation ceremonies.

“Through conversations with the graduate committees, schools will decide on the type of virtual component,” McNair said.

Options for schools include hosting a live event on Microsoft Teams or Facebook Live, a PowerPoint presentation, or a pre-recorded ceremony.

“I guess they would be well advanced with this at this point,” McNair said of the schools schedule to work on the chosen option.

In a media statement, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario confirmed that schools are currently preparing virtual ceremonies for graduates. Special packages and take-out meals will be prepared for students.

The board said if schools reopen for in-person learning in June, many high schools will offer a drive-through celebration where families can register at a scheduled time to wear a cap and dress, graduate and cross over. the scene.

“We plan to make sure they feel celebrated while respecting the health and safety protocols in place,” the statement read.

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Premier Doug Ford sent a letter to various groups and organizations asking for advice on reopening schools before the end of the school year. Ford asked for a response before 5 p.m. Friday, putting up an announcement likely from the start to the middle of next week.

For the public council, the confirmation of the virtual ceremonies confirmed that no in-person celebrations would be scheduled at a later date for 2020 or 2021 graduates.

The board has announced that last year’s ceremonies will be postponed to this year. However, with graduates already celebrating and possessing their degrees, the traditional gatherings will not take place, the board said in an email.

McNair said schools would reach out to administrators to find out how they would participate, whether with a written statement provided, a pre-recorded video message, or attending the live event if a school goes this route.

Graduates will receive their diplomas, along with any prizes or scholarships and an additional graduation gift. How students receive these items will be one of two ways.

One option is for schools to organize a drive-through event. Students and their families had to come to the school and cross the parking lot to receive their graduation items.

The second option is for educators to deliver the articles to the graduates’ homes. Either option selected will take place the week of June 21-25, the board said.

McNair said there is another way for students to celebrate graduation, but it depends on schools reopening for in-person learning before the end of the year.

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If schools were to reopen, students could have the option to walk through a stage with a cap and dress and have a video or photo of that action included in the virtual ceremony.

“If we’re able to make this addition to the virtual ceremony, we’ll work a little more closely with Public Health and make sure all the metrics are in place,” McNair said.

Daily screening, proper mask wear, hand hygiene and retention of students in their cohorts would be tracked as they’ve been throughout the year, McNair said.

Regarding the 6th and 8th graduation ceremonies, McNair said schools are currently making plans. McNair said families whose students graduate from 6th or 8th grade would be notified of plans for the graduation ceremony by June 7.

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Perry A. Thomasson