Varied approach to schools returning to extracurriculars

By Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Varied approach to schools returning to extracurriculars
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IROQUOIS – Lifting most of the pandemic-related restrictions in Ontario schools in March has led to the return of school life as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the resumption of school sports, field trips, and extra-curricular activities and events. For students at Seaway District High School, this also marks the return of the school’s annual prom.

“Given the tumultuous times that our students have gone through, we wanted to ensure that a safe and equitable prom was made available to all of our students to celebrate their successes despite the challenges of COVID-19,” Seaway Principal Trent Carter-Edwards told The Leader.

Initially a small group of parents and students began planning in February for some form of a prom. At the time Ministry of Education directives did not allow school-sanctioned events to be planned. Those regulations changed after March Break as pandemic restrictions eased.

Carter-Edwards explained that discussions last week brought the volunteer-led initiative in-house as a sanctioned event.

According to ministry regulations, fundraising on school property by students counts as school generated funds. Money raised on school property through ticket sales, bake sales or other fundraising initiatives cannot be used for non-school sanctioned events and activities.

Carter-Edwards said that the decision to bring the prom in-house was “so that we could provide the support and resources of the school.” That includes use of previous school-generated fundraising specifically earmarked for prom.

This year’s prom at Seaway is scheduled for May 26, in the courtyard at the school.

While Seaway is having their prom, some schools and school boards in the region are opting not to bring back events that were part of school life before the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Grenville District High School in Kemptville will not be hosting a prom this year, or possibly in the future.

A letter sent to parents by that school’s principal Christopher Bourne on April 7 said that at the direction of the board, “the decision has been made that schools will be pulling back from prom planning and hosting in the future.” Instead, parents and students could plan future “prom-like” activities independent of the school.

A similar situation happened in Cornwall where the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario cancelled its annual Bishop’s Cup competition between the two Catholic secondary schools in the city. Board officials cited pandemic related concerns and cancelled the event “out of an abundance of caution.” A community-organized competition, not sanctioned by the board, was eventually held.

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