Dear students and families of the 2021 graduating class,
As we approach the end of this unusual school year, I am reaching out to share with you an overview of the guidance school districts have received to date from public health with respect to 2021 graduation ceremonies. This guidance was developed in consultation with the Ministry of Education, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
The key considerations identified by public health are as follows:
- Graduation ceremonies are considered a “learning activity,” and as such fall under the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.
- Weather permitting, outside ceremonies are preferred to indoor ceremonies.
- At this time, no persons may be present as a spectator, unless the presence of the person is necessary in order to provide care for the participant. Parents will consequently not be able to attend in person.
- Dances, dinners, or associated dry grad events are not permitted at this time, as such events fall under the provincial Gathering and Events Order.
- Virtual and drive-thru/drive-in ceremonies are an alternative. Guidance for this type of event is included in the Gathering and Events Order.
- In addition to the five key considerations listed above, public health also clarified that staff and students will be required to wear masks indoors as per current guidelines, except when the students are in the act of receiving their diploma (i.e. crossing the stage). Although there are no requirements to wear masks in outdoor settings, schools are expected to support and encourage students and staff to wear masks at outdoor graduation ceremonies.
I know that our secondary schools have already begun tentatively planning for 2021 grad celebrations, and that they built flexibility into this planning work so that they could adjust to any changes to provincial guidelines and orders. Your child’s school will be reaching out to you in the coming days and weeks to provide you with more detailed information about the planned activities and their timelines. Thank you for your patience as our schools finalize their plans to recognize our graduating students in safe and meaningful ways.
Finally, a sincere congratulations to our graduates on achieving this important milestone during a particularly challenging time. I look forward to seeing the graduates of 2021 receive their diplomas as they prepare to take the next step in their journey.