Waterloo Region school boards announce early plans for outdoor grad ceremonies

Premier Iain Rankin said schools will have guidelines to follow to ensure gathering limits and public health protocols are being followed. (Photo courtesy: iStock)

Many students in Waterloo Region will get the chance to meet up with classmates and teachers to say goodbye, as both the public and Catholic school boards announced early plans for outdoor graduation ceremonies.

But amid the preliminary plans for year-end celebrations, there are concerns about equity and the fact some schools may be able to do more than others.

"If a school is located in a well-to-do area, it might have resources from the community," said Rob Gascho, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation Waterloo Region president. "Why is it fair that they would get to do that and somebody else wouldn't?"

Most schools plan to offer drive-by or walk-by graduation ceremonies for high school seniors.

Meanwhile, both the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) have announced that year-end, in-person outdoor events for all elementary schools will also take place.

Individual schools will announce schedules for each class.

The Minister of Education has defended the province's outdoor, year-end celebration plan only given to school boards on Monday.

"There are ways to do this that really require nominal or no cost at all," Education Minister Stephen Lecce said. "At the end of the day, we are looking for ways to let kids see their peers in a safe manner."

For students in grades 9 to eleven, the WRDSB says they will have to say goodbye virtually.

No details for these grades have been provided by the WCDSB.