COVID-19 Changed the lives of all Canadians, Specially Students and we sacrificed a lot, Councillor, Jan Harder, City of Ottawa
Simple tasks like going to the grocery store, getting our hair cut or dining out have all changed and include new measures. Plastic shields at cash registers, markers on the floor and limits on the number of people allowed in a store at any given time are all part of our new normal.
Furthermore, the novel coronavirus has also had a big impact on our youth. In-person classes have not taken place since early March, with all school activities cancelled. It’s been difficult for many students, especially those who are about to graduate and get on with their lives.
Graduation ceremonies, prom, and grad trips have all been cancelled — activities that are supposed to bring lifelong memories for teens. These are all simple things so many of us took for granted in the past, but schools are finding new ways to celebrate their students’ accomplishments.
Mother Teresa High School in Barrhaven for example, is one of several schools in Ottawa which surprised their graduating students with a sign on their lawn reading “congratulations class of 2020.”
The idea itself was started in the United States but quickly became a trend here in Canada. Staff at Mother Teresa said it was a simple way they could celebrate their grads and show them they still care. If you’re interested in watching some of the students’ reactions, you can watch a short video produced by the staff at Mother Teresa: https://t.co/qjTEbqFoH3?amp=1
Due to crowd size restrictions in Ontario, graduation ceremonies won’t be able to take place this summer. The Ottawa Catholic School Board has already said they plan to have this year’s grade 12’s return in October for a traditional ceremony.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also changed what it will look like when students attend post-secondary education. All colleges and universities in Ottawa have indicated their classes will be fully moved online with virtual learning options. Some courses will still have in-person labs/assignments, however, most will be done from the comfort of home. That is causing mixed feelings for many students and post-secondary institutions are working around the clock to ensure everyone gets the best education possible. For now, this new method will be implemented for the first semester only, with hopes of having students return to in-person classes for the second semester in January 2021.
Elementary, middle and high school students, however, will return to the classroom in September. That experience will look different as a whole, with smaller classes, distance learning options, and physical distancing measures in place for lunch and recess.
The Ontario Government has indicated they plan to release full guidelines as to what parents, students and educators can plan to expect for the fall by the end of June.
For students who still have belongings at their school, plans are underway for them to be safely picked up. If they haven’t already, your child’s school will contact you about how this process will take place.
With classes gone virtual and events not allowed to take place, schools have had to come up with creative ways to host their events. Many of them raise thousands of dollars a year for local charities in the community. One of those events is Relay For Life, a 12 hour-long event that raises money for cancer research in Canada. Longfields held their event in the fall, raising over $45,000. Similar numbers were raised by both John McCrae and Mother Teresa High Schools last year.
On the weekend, John McCrae will hold their Relay For Life event virtually. Students will take part in the speeches, games and activities via zoom, an online video conferencing platform. Students have been working around the clock to ensure this very important event still happens. It brings in so much necessary funding annually for the Canadian Cancer Foundation. Relay for Life is always a highlight for me and I’m so glad to see it’s still taking place!
COVID-19 has created many challenges for all of us, but so many people are finding creative new ways to keep activities going. Life may not fully return to normal for a while, but we can still have things to look forward to.
Congratulations to all of this year’s grads on their success and all the best moving forward. You are our future and the world is in good hands!
For latest info on City and Covid19: www.janharder.ca