Province prospectively passes all eligible Grade 12 students
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
School is out for Grade 12 students in British Columbia; however, unlike other secondary-school students—who will be returning to high school—many of these students have graduated and may be without an educational institution in September.
Amongst the dozens of press releases and letters flowing from provincial ministerial offices in Victoria regarding COVID-19, the Ministry of Education released a statement on March 17 essentially graduating approximately 54,000 grade 12 students in the province.
No cap and gown. No walk across the stage. No cheesy graduation photos.
“Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. The only graduation assessment required for current Grade 12 students is the Grade 10 numeracy assessment,” read Minister of Education Rob Fleming’s letter to parents, guardians, and staff.
No graduation assessment exams required.
The current crop of graduated Grade 12 students wrote their Grade 10 numeracy assessment in early 2017. These students last wrote a provincial assessment exam earlier in the school year—with some students either finishing their English 12 graduation assessment during the first two offerings in November and January, while other students were waiting for the last assessment date in June.
The decision to suspend in-class instruction was made in consultation with the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and comes one day after neighbouring Alberta closed all schools and daycares.
Canada’s largest province decided to postpone grade school classes for two weeks after March break, with the hope that educational facilities would open on April 6. However, the April 6 timeline has been pushed back in the midst of declaring a State of Emergency in Ontario, although online courses are being considered.
All school closures come in the background of low COVID-19 infection rates in individuals under 19 years of age. As of March 29, only 4 percent of Canada’s 3,207 cases have occurred in grade-school-aged students.
Although the Ministry of Education claims that school cancellations were made in consultation with the Provincial Health Officer, Public Health officials remain divided on school closures as an effective public health measure, as Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw decried school closures.
“The repercussions for closing schools might do more harm than good because any measures taken would need to be in place for months not weeks,” commented Hinshaw at a press conference.