When the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) and the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Boards (HPEDSB) 2019/2020 school year began, neither senior secondary school educators nor Grade 12 students could have imagined their graduating year to be so challenging.
In recent and separate announcements, the ALCDSB and HPEDSB have stated their recognition of the unique position graduating students are in due to the challenges occurring in education in the past weeks due to COVID-19.
“On behalf of everyone at the ALCDSB, We thank you for your dedication to your schoolwork and to achieving so much as you look to your future goals,” said Director of Education for ALCDSB David Desantis. “
“I want to acknowledge the current reality we all face through COVID-19, and specifically what you, as graduating students, are facing,” said Sean Monteith, Director of Education for HPEDSB. “This is quite simply a situation that nobody anticipated nor has anyone encountered before. Therefore, if you are feeling uneasy and experiencing uncertainty, you are not alone and have good reason for it; there is nothing we can compare our current challenges to.”
Late last month, both Directors of Education sent letters to Grade 12 students in their respective school boards offering the latest updates from Ontario’s Ministry of Education. With graduation and post-secondary processes and activities firmly on the horizon, Monteith and Desantis want to assure students they won’t be lost in the shuffle when regular education practices resume.
“I recognize that many of you will have questions around the actual graduation event itself,” said Director Monteith in a statement. “While there is no denying that graduating from high school is a significant moment in your lives, it will, in all likelihood, look different this year. As we live through and make history together, I encourage you to think of different possibilities to consider. You, your graduating peers, your teachers and all staff in your school are in this together as you celebrate the culmination of your senior year.”
“Catholic schools are places where students find solid and enduring values to give hope, meaning and purpose to life,” said Director Desantis. “Your experience and understanding of God’s unwavering love has nurtured your resilience to stand firm in shifting times. I recognize this is not how you envisioned your final year. However, I am confident the competencies and skills you have acquired in our Catholic education system have prepared you well to succeed in your future plans.”
The information announced from the Ministry of Education includes:
- The Ministry of Education waiving two graduation requirements; a passing grade on the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), and the completion of 40 hours of Community Service work by the end of the semester.
- Grade 12 students will receive a mid-term mark which will be sent to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre and the Ontario College Application Service. The Ministry has mandated the mid-term mark be determined based on evaluations conducted up to March 13, the day prior to the start of March Break. Please consult with your school guidance counsellor should you have individual questions.
- Grade 12 students will continue to be evaluated this semester in a manner that is reasonable given the current distance education environment in which they’re learning. The ALCDSB encourage their students to visit their virtual classrooms daily and strive to complete the work requested by their teachers. They also recognize there will be some limitations to the scope of learning in this environment.
- On April 26th Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced all remaining professional activity days and examination days will be used for the instructional program. On these previously scheduled days, students can expect to continue their learning program and the use of culminating assignments will replace the exam components.
- For students who are in Co-op, OYAP or SHSM programs consultation with your guidance counsellors at your individual schools is key. As face-to-face opportunities are not currently available, options such as online experiences are being explored for each area.
- And graduation ceremonies are still under consideration and further information will be provided later in May.
“Life can, at times, feel and appear unpredictable and even uncertain. As young adults, and our leaders of tomorrow, I ask you to look at the challenges we are facing and consider the big picture,” expressed Director Monteith in a statement. “What our priorities are and need to be at this time: our health and the health of our families, our responsibility to each other, and the hope for a long and promising future. Stay safe and be well.”