VIDEO: Mississauga Catholic grads create video, pleading for an outdoor grad ceremony

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Published June 10, 2021 at 4:18 pm

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A creative handful of Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) high school graduates turned to YouTube, crafting a video that pleads for them to have an outdoor in-person graduation ceremony.

The three-minute video, involving 20-plus students from different high schools within the DPCDSB, have the students stating that they have followed the rules all school year long, from online learning to mask-wearing, social-distancing and hygiene, and asks at the end if they can have one last chance to see their classmates at an open-air ceremony.

The video was posted onto YouTube on June 6 and has collected about 650 views, not exactly viral territory, but nonetheless a clever collaboration from teens across the boards.

However, the video is unlikely to gain much traction from the DPCDSB trustees who were “frustrated and concerned” when Premier Doug Ford suggested his government would be fine with outdoor graduation ceremonies on June 2, which was then followed by Education MInister Stephen Lecce releasing provincially-approved outdoor graduation ceremony guidelines on June 7. They denounced that lack of consultation with the Province’s school boards before making the dual announcements.

The DPCDSB responded to both Ford and Lecce on June 9, denouncing the announcements from the Province. In a letter penned by Sharon Hobin, the chair of the board trustees, she noted, “The June 2 and June 7 announcements, unfortunately, created an unrealistic expectation among students, parents, and community members that we could change existing plans for remote graduations and pivot to in-person outdoor celebrations.”

Noting that the DPCDSB boundaries were within a well-recognized “Covid hot-spot,” she added, “We know that (our previously-approved virtual ceremonies) is not what all students and parents had ideally hoped for, but given the health and safety concerns, this was the prudent way to approach this important milestone in the lives of students and families. We also knew that it was important to consult widely to do the best we could, within the context of COVID, to celebrate and acknowledge our graduates.”

Hobin alluded to the fact that their region, taking in both Dufferin and Peel, was still a high-risk zone. They referenced a report from Peel Public Health that stated: “In Peel, we have a higher occurrence of the Delta variant compared to other parts of the province. We know this variant is more transmissible which means we must be cautious in planning any form of in-person gathering. Given our local context, Peel Public Health (PPH) strongly recommends that graduation ceremonies be held virtually for the end of the 2020-2021 school year.”

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