Rite of passage graduation ceremonies for local students are a no-go for the second year running.
Lambton Kent District School Board Director John Howitt told a municipal press conference Thursday that traditional graduation ceremonies are not possible this year.
The Ministry of Education announcement that schools will remain closed for in-class learning until September put an end to the faint hope students could return for the final weeks of the year.
Educators have “already moved past the point of disappointment,” Howitt said. However, the director noted there may be an opportunity for graduates to mark their educational milestones when they return learning devices and pick up their belongings from school.
The board is working examining ways to acknowledge the achievements of Grade 8 graduates who are moving to high school, and to bring closure to Grade 12 students who are completing their public school education.
Howitt stressed school is still in session online, and secondary school students need to work hard as their performance will impact post-secondary opportunities such as scholarships, bursaries and apprenticeships.
In June 2020, the pandemic forced organizers and students to come up with creative graduation options, such as drive-by ceremonies.
The St. Clair Catholic District School Board will not be having any face-to-face events and has already planned virtual graduation ceremonies.
In a press release issued Friday, board communications officer Todd Lozon said officials will be watching public health measures closely.
If restrictions are eased, he said schools may wish to include some elements of face-to-face ceremonies for graduates, such as drive-up certificate presentations and photo opportunities.
Lozon said the decisions will be made on a school-by-school basis.
Public health measures across the province run contrary to what Premier Doug Ford said last week when he encouraged all classes to have a graduation or end-of-year celebration.
Current public health measures restrict gatherings, but even when the province moves into the first stage of the Road to Reopen Ontario, only 10 people will be allowed to gather.