The class of 2021 will be celebrating in much the same fashion as last year’s grads thanks to current health restrictions based on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This is upsetting news to parent Anna Kosiance, who was hoping to be able to celebrate the graduation of two members of her family in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District.
Kosiance believes grads are being left “out in the cold” this year.
With a full year gone by of COVID rules and restrictions, all formal events were cancelled, “with no compromises pending,” she said.
“How may we as a community, recognize our grad accomplishments,” she asked.
Kosiance lamented that even the 2020 graduating class got to complete some of their events throughout the year because the pandemic had not yet taken hold. They were able to hold fundraising events such as car washes, bake sales, and bottle drives – things Kosiance wishes her 2021 grads were able to do.
“This year went directly to mask wearing, ‘core’ classes and zero events planning,” she noted.
“I sincerely doubt Canadians have seen such a dire curtail of our education system in the past 100 plus years,” she ventured to say.
Last week, school district superintendent Harry Dhillon sent home a letter to graduating students in the district and their families to offer “guidance” on how their special day can be celebrated this year. That guidance, he said, was developed in consultation with the Ministry of Education, The BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
In it, Dhillon noted grad ceremonies will be able to take place but are considered a “learning activity,” and fall under the provincial COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for students from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Outdoor ceremonies are preferable to indoor – weather permitting – he said. And, as with anything indoors, masks must be worn by all participants, except when the students are in the act of crossing the stage and receiving their diploma.
For outdoor ceremonies, masks are being encouraged.
At this time, though, there can be no spectators unless that person is in attendance to provide care for a participant.
Dances, dinners, or associated dry grad events are currently not allowed under the provincial order for gatherings and events, Dhillon further advised. Guidelines can be found within this order for virtual or drive-thru or drive-in ceremonies.
In the coming weeks, Dhillon noted, schools will be reaching out to families with more detailed information about their planned activities and timelines. He then thanked students and parents for their patience before congratulating the graduates on their achievement.
“A sincere congratulations to our graduates on achieving this important milestone during a particularly challenging time,” said Dhillon.
“I look forward to seeing the graduates of 2021 receive their diplomas as they prepare to take the next step in their journey.”
Kosiance would like to see the 2021 graduates honoured in a more meaningful way by the community.
“Shame on all of our community, self included, for allowing these very difficult times to strip us of what has always been ‘a right of passage’ for our young adults.”
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