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Thames Valley board to postpone Grade 8 and 12 graduations amid coronavirus pandemic

The Thames Valley District School Board Education Centre on Dundas Street, July 19, 2017.
The Thames Valley District School Board Education Centre on Dundas Street, July 19, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

Roughly a week after the province announced that Ontario’s public schools would remain closed past May 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the director of education for the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) is postponing graduation celebrations for students in grades 8 and 12.

Mark Fisher outlined details of the postponement on The Afternoon Show with Jess Brady on Global News Radio 980 CFPL.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Ontario schools to remain closed past May 4

“We know it’s disappointing for students in Grade 8 and Grade 12,” said Fisher.

“These are really important rites of passage and we want to make sure that when we do these, we do these right. With the restrictions on public gatherings and the time involved in organizing these well, I just don’t think it was fair to our broader community to delay this decision any longer.”

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Fisher notes that some schools already hold graduation ceremonies in the fall but that will now be true for all schools this year.

Proms are also impacted by the decision.

“I think that’ll be on a school-by-school basis. The situation is so fluid that we really, at this stage, can’t commit to any kind of gatherings above five people,” Fisher added.

The TVDSB is among many educational institutions to postpone or cancel convocations and other celebratory gatherings of its students and alumni. Locally, both Fanshawe College and Western University have announced the postponement of spring convocations, as have several other educational institutions across Canada.

READ MORE: Fanshawe College postpones convocation ceremonies to the fall

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The board previously announced several measures to address educational concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 7, Fisher announced that the public board would be moving forward with a “do no harm” philosophy, meaning that students’ grades as of March 13 would be the lowest possible grades they could receive for this school year.

In late March, the public board offered computers to children who do not have access to one in order to support learning from home.