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Nova Scotians permitted to celebrate graduations under strict health guidelines

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, speaks at a press briefing in Halifax on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, speaks at a press briefing in Halifax on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Government of Nova Scotia

The year 2020 has been a challenging time for students who had to finish their studies online and adapt to the changes implemented in Nova Scotia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, had some good news on Friday after he announced that high school graduates will be able to celebrate as long as public health guidelines are followed.

READ MORE: No new cases of coronavirus identified as more businesses in Nova Scotia reopen Friday

At a press briefing, Strang announced an exemption under the Public Health Act to allow community organizations, businesses or municipalities to hold celebrations that would recognize graduates.

This would be in lieu of traditional graduation ceremonies.

“Living with COVID-19 continues to be a balance for us all. Unfortunately, students leaving school this year won’t have a traditional graduation ceremony or prom,” said Strang.

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“We want to support communities in recognizing these students, but it’s vital these celebrations are done safely, without risking the health of participants.”

Click to play video 'Department of education releases COVID-19 guidelines for in-person graduation celebrations' Department of education releases COVID-19 guidelines for in-person graduation celebrations
Department of education releases COVID-19 guidelines for in-person graduation celebrations – May 26, 2020

Conditions under the exemption must include the following:

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  • Attendees must arrive in a vehicle
  • All passengers in the vehicle must be from a single household or household bubble
  • Graduates can be out of their vehicle to do things like cross a stage or take part in a parade of graduates as long as physical distance (two metres or six feet) is maintained between all graduates while they are out of their vehicle
  • Organizers must communicate clearly with attendees in advance and ensure other public health protocols, like physical distancing, are followed

The province also noted that all non-school based, community celebrations of graduates must be held by a recognized business, municipality or community organization, an association or society.

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The local municipality, police and fire departments and EHS must be informed and supportive of the planned event.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia’s bars, restaurants and barber shops to reopen after coronavirus shutdown

All public high schools in Nova Scotia will recognize Grade 12 graduates receiving diplomas. This will be separate from any celebrations that might be held in the community.

Nova Scotia confirmed that there are no new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, with the total number of confirmed cases remaining at 1,058.