School boards stick with graduation plans

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Local school boards are sticking with plans to hold virtual or contact-free Grade 8 graduation ceremonies in the coming weeks and postponing secondary school ceremonies to the fall.

On June 2, Ontario Premier Doug Ford opened the door to outdoor graduation ceremonies this month for all grades, where physical distancing is possible.

The Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board said Grade 8 graduation ceremonies will be held the week of June 21-25. But, instead of gathering for in-person ceremonies, a contact-free drive-thru process has been established for schools, education director Mike McDonald said said in a statement released this week.

Schools also will be celebrating in other ways, including virtual gatherings, sharing video of valedictorian messages and celebratory signage.

“I’d like to thank our staff for the work they have done so far organizing inclusive and safe graduation ceremonies for our students and families,” McDonald said. “Although we know everyone would prefer to be together in-person for these events, we continue to do our part in keeping everyone safe during this pandemic.”

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Similarly, the Grand Erie District School Board said Grade 8 ceremonies will be virtual. Schools also may celebrate with graduation lawn or display signs, drive-thru celebrations and videos.

Schools will reach out to families and provide information about a pick-up process for graduation awards and diplomas that will meeting public health guidelines, the public board board said in a statement.

“We would like to thank our students, families and staff for their understanding and patience throughout these extraordinary times,” the board said. “We recognize that this is not the way we hoped to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates, but we know that our staff are busy going above and beyond to organize these graduation ceremonies to make them a special and memorable one.”

Meanwhile, all secondary school graduation ceremonies for both school boards will be held in the fall.

As more people across Ontario are vaccinated, the Grand Erie board said it hopes provincial guidelines will allow in-person gatherings at that time.

Secondary schools will be providing more information to parents as it becomes available.

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