Last week, our government announced the closure of all schools until the end of June 2020. This wasn’t an easy decision, but we know it was the right decision based on protecting the health and safety of children, families and our community. I am sure that many students are feeling sadness over not being able to reconnect with friends in person before the end of the school year. However, over the last several months, students – supported by parents, teachers, and education workers – have stepped up in a major way to adapt and learn in a new, challenging environment.
As the school year concludes virtually, this is still a time for celebration of student achievement, particularly in the face of new adversity. To all graduating students, I wish you heartfelt commendation and success as you navigate a new stage of your life under trying circumstances. You have every right to be proud of your accomplishments, and as you celebrate your success, remember to thank all of the family, friends, and loved ones whose support and commitment has helped you throughout your educational journey.
School boards across Dufferin–Caledon have been working to honour student achievement this year in unique ways, while ensuring that ability to graduate is not impacted. For example, the Upper Grand District School Board has teamed up with a studio to create congratulatory videos for the graduating class of 2020 at each school. Our government has been clear that grade 12 students will not have their graduation or progression impacted by COVID-19’s effect on our world. To that end, the Ministry of Education has waived some requirements for graduating students, including the 40 hours of volunteer service and the literacy test. Final exams are also cancelled for all students this year.
Looking ahead to the summer, I know many young people are hopeful that summer camps might continue. Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, I’m pleased to share that summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August of this year. In order to facilitate those potential openings safely, strict health and safety guidelines are being developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.
We have also developed a summer learning plan to ensure Ontario students have every opportunity to continue learning through the summer months. Voluntary summer learning programs are being expanded to reach the most students ever, to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge required to succeed. This includes the introduction of upgrading courses, which will allow students to upgrade their mark in a course in half the time it would have taken them previously, targeted supports to connect vulnerable students with non-credit ministry educational programs and leadership supports, and focused programming for students with special education or mental health needs.
For more information about how our government is working to maintain learning in the 2019-20 school year, expand summer learning opportunities, and prepare for the possibilities of the 2020-21 school year, visit my website at sylviajonesmpp.ca or call my office at 1-800-265-1603.