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COVID-19: Kingston, Ont. high school students disappointed by virtual graduation

Click to play video: 'School year ends virtually, students graduate online' School year ends virtually, students graduate online
WATCH: As the school year comes to a close, this year's graduation ceremonies will once again look different. The LDSB and ALCDSB will both be following recommendations by local public health units to encourage virtual events and drive through options – Jun 18, 2021

Graduation is a big deal for high-school students like Ella Hsu.

“It’s the strangest feeling and I think we’re all quite disappointed that it couldn’t have been something a little bit bigger,” Hsu said of her own virtual graduation.

Hsu is a student trustee with the Algonquin, Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, but says she wasn’t consulted when the board decided that she and her classmates will be finishing their high school careers virtually.

Read more: Principals, school boards question Ontario’s plan to host outdoor graduations

“It’s going to end by, you know, clicking the red button and we’ll watch a YouTube video,” Hsu said.

Earlier this month, Premier Doug Ford encouraged schools to hold short, outdoor graduation ceremonies for all grades. However, a joint statement from Hastings Prince Edward public health and Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington public health suggests virtual or drive through ceremonies remain the lowest-risk options to celebrate academic success and achievement of students.

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The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board is taking a similar stance.

While in-person graduation ceremonies may not be possible for most this year, Ella hopes that her plea to the board to consult with student trustees will help for further decision-making.

“We have to be grateful for what we have, but the fact that it could have been different, I think, still lingers,” Hsu said.

Read more: Ontario schools to remain closed to in-person learning until September

Meanwhile, downtown, a group of students and parents gathered in front of École Catholique Cathedral to protest the closures that have kept them out of the classroom and demanded assurances that the situation would not continue into September.

“This isn’t just about online learning or education, they need to be in person, in class. We want the government to pay attention,” said Nora Fayed, Coalition for Kids co-founder.

“This is not a political issue, this is about the well-being of our children and the well-being of our society.”

With school ending this month, decisions have yet to be finalized for the upcoming school year.

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