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COVID-19 forces Hamilton school board to cancel prom, graduation ceremonies

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board says it's cancelled all graduation ceremonies for the 2019/2020 school year.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board says it's cancelled all graduation ceremonies for the 2019/2020 school year. Don Mitchell / Global News

Hamilton’s public school board has officially cancelled prom and all graduation ceremonies for the 2019/2020 school year as safety measures to curb the spread of coronavirus continue.

In a statement, the Hamilton-Wentworth district school board (HWDSB) said it has added the celebrations to its list of cancellations made in mid-March.

READ MORE: Ontario public high school teachers reach deal with Ford government

“HWDSB made the difficult decision to cancel all athletics, proms, banquets and similar events for the remainder of the school year. Secondary school graduations in June have been cancelled and we will explore solutions to offer them in the fall,” the school board said in a tweet on Thursday morning.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the closure of all Ontario schools until May 4 during a news conference on March 31.

However, Ford announced the extension of the closure on April 14 but did not provide a new date.

READ MORE: Online learning begins for students across Ontario as COVID-19 closures continue

After the closure, the school board’s director of education Manny Figueiredo told Global News he was unsure whether there would be a continuation and extension of the school year amid the pandemic.

“We don’t know when it’s going to end,” said Figueiredo, “So when you ask how do you plan for this, it’s a great question.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Unknown when Ontario schools to reopen, Premier Ford says safety remains priority
Coronavirus outbreak: Unknown when Ontario schools to reopen, Premier Ford says safety remains priority

On Thursday, HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop said there was still no further direction from the province about the extension.

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McKillop went on to say that graduates looking to apply to post-secondary schools will see their mid-term mark recorded prior to March 13 with consideration from teachers for additional work.

Meanwhile, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board Chairperson Patrick Daly said their school board will wait another week before deciding the fate of its graduation ceremonies.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Closure of Ontario’s non-essential businesses extended to May 6

“We were are waiting to get further information from the ministry,” said Daly, “Clearly graduations, you know, it’s a significant event in the life of a community young person. We wanted to make sure we were making the right decision and consulting effectively on that.”

Last week, Mohawk College announced the postponement of spring convocation ceremonies and said graduates will still be receiving credentials by mail in June.

McMaster University has also postponed it’s in-person spring convocation and said it will proceed with some sort of online celebrations with a ceremony to be scheduled for a later date.

The university says graduation dates will not change.

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