Q&A for Elementary and Secondary Year-End Graduations and Celebrations
As the end of the 2020-2021 school year approaches, we are aware that parents have many questions about upcoming graduations and grade-focused celebrations in schools. The Director of Education provided a letter to both elementary (link) and secondary (link) students and their families through School Messenger on June 14.
To assist you, here are some key questions and answers for families:
Q: The government said we could have graduations? Why are we doing drive-by events?
A: In order to remain compliant with the additional information provided to school boards by the Ministry of Education on how to safely hold a graduation, and by Niagara Region Public Health, drive-by graduations, with a brief opportunity for students to have their photos taken, are the safest option available.
Q: This isn’t really what we were expecting after the announcement – can it be changed?
A: Graduations take a great deal of planning, and your child’s school has already been planning this year’s event for several months. This, and the fact that we are required by law to comply with the government gathering limits identified in Stage 1 of Ontario’s Road to Reopen, and local regulations made larger outdoor celebrations impossible.
Q: We’d like to bring other family members with us. Can we?
A: Our direction from the Ministry of Education permits two guests per graduate. We are required to comply with these regulations for the health and safety of all students, staff and families.
Q: If this is outside, why are masks/physical distancing required?
A: These are the instructions provided by both the Ministry of Education and Niagara Region Public Health, and we are bound to follow them.
Q: What is happening for high schools?
A: Schools have coordinated special events for graduates in June. Secondary school graduations will take place in the fall, and are tentatively-scheduled as in-person events. This decision will be made closer to the time, based on current conditions and regulations in Ontario.
Q: What is a classroom recognition?
A: The Ministry of Education requires schools to hold classroom end-of-year events for students. The size and scope of these events are at the discretion of the principal, keeping in mind the gathering requirements laid out in Stage 1 of Ontario’s Road to Reopen and local regulations. Students are welcome to come for a final visit to school for the year to see their teacher and principal, pick up any items left behind in March, and to return technology before the end of the year.
Q: Can we come to the school with another family so my child can see their friend?
A: To comply with provincial gathering limits, each student will be assigned a time for their visit, and their visit may not last longer than 10 minutes.
Q: Can we stay and maybe play at the playground after our visit?
A: All families must leave the school once they have said their goodbyes and picked up/returned items to ensure we comply with the gathering limits.
Q: My child needs technology over the summer? Can we keep what we have?
A: All technology is to be returned to the school/Board at the end of the year. If your child is registered in a summer school program to enhance/retain literacy and numeracy skills over the summer and a device is required, please discuss this with your child’s principal. Any technology loaned to students for this purpose must be returned when school offices reopen in late August.
Q: We might need technology next year. Can we keep it for longer?
A: Elementary students attending school in-person will have access to technology while at school, provided by the school. Families of elementary students who choose to enroll their child in virtual learning in 2021-2022 are expected to provide their own technology. Secondary students attending in-person will also have access to Board-owned technology, and are also encouraged to bring their own, if possible, to prevent additional spread of illness. There will be limited exceptions to this expectation, and parents are asked to please contact their child’s school to discuss individual circumstances.