While the public school board postponed its graduation ceremonies until June 2021, the Catholic board hopes it’ll be able to hold commencement services this fall.
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario said this week that while the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will prohibit it from hosting the ceremonies when they’re typically held in June, it is hopeful it won’t have to cancel them altogether.
Amber LaBerge, a spokewoman for the board, said in an email that “the board will be looking to host graduation ceremonies at Thanksgiving, if it is permitted by the local health authorities at that time.”
“The board continues to consult with local health officials on an ongoing basis, and will continue to follow the direction of Chief Medical Officers of Health regarding social gatherings,” the board said in a follow-up email.
“Therefore, should restrictions be lifted in September to an extent that it would be deemed safe to hold a graduation celebration in October, then plans will be communicated to parents in advance for planning purposes.”
A fall commencement ceremony was something the region’s public board considered, but ultimately it went in a different direction last week when it decided to postpone all of its graduation events until June 2021.
Some trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board questioned why the ceremonies couldn’t be held in the fall – like the Catholic board has chosen to do – instead of waiting an entire calendar year, but the board’s director said it wasn’t feasible. Stephen Sliwa, director of the public board, said after consulting with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit medical officer of health, officials came to the conclusion that large gatherings will likely still not be allowed come the fall.
So they made the decision to postpone them until 2021.
The Catholic board says it is still planning for a fall commencement, but is in continual discussions with health authorities – and if it’s determined by that time that large gatherings are still not a good idea, it will change course when the time comes.
Graduation ceremonies aren’t the first thing to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; students have been learning from home since mid-March, and earlier this year the board cancelled all of its international trips.
Additionally, both local school boards previously announced that because of a current provincial emergency order limiting gatherings to fewer than five people, public health officials said proms and other social gatherings in large numbers cannot take place.