LETTERS: Students in 2020 graduating class are being thrown under a bus

Editor:

In these extraordinary times, with a student graduating this year, I am extremely concerned with the rush to graduate the class of 2020. This rush to graduate may cause lifelong problems.

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I am surprised and disappointed the Ministry of Education has left this important matter with the local school boards. I believe this is a major mistake as I fear many school boards will graduate students just to get them out of the system before the next school year, with absolutely zero care for the students’ futures.

I worry local school boards will simply wash their hands of the 2020 graduating year.

I have absolutely no faith in local school boards to do what is proper and the glib online studies now being proposed will prove to be a fiasco for many students, especially those who are not the best achievers. The casual statement that Grade 12s have completed most of their studies rings hollow for if this were true, why are they in school?

It is time the minister and Ministry of Education take control and lay a foundation that local school boards must adhere to for the 2020 graduating year.

There is no sugar coating this: students in 2020 graduating class are being thrown under a bus, which will leave lifelong scars. They will be pariahs, in the job or post-secondary world.

This summer will see little opportunity for jobs due to the current crisis Covid-19 economics. Most families are now stretched to the limit during the isolation with no income, postponing secondary education as it will be unaffordable. Those planning to send their children to the U.S. for post-secondary education may find that option unavailable if the predictions for major infection in the U.S. come true.

The summer will be extremely dark for those graduating in 2020, with little light at the end of the tunnel.

Grade 12 is just not about education but a year of congratulations; of obtaining self-worth; many students participating in high level sports gain a sense of achievement, win or lose. This will be lost for many, with dire ramifications for the future.

Will they be the year of the lost?

Post-secondary institutions will also take note of the 2020 class as the class which education was "incomplete." This will haunt those in the 2020 graduating year and throughout their life.

From personal experience, online courses will be a fiasco with only about 20 per cent of the students actually benefiting, the rest will be abandoned. I have found local school boards big on talk but offer little in real solutions.

I have talked to several teachers, including university professors, about a solution that would address many of the above concerns and there was no disagreement with the following.

Meld the 2020 year graduates with the 2021 graduates making 2021 a one-off, hybrid year with both 2020 graduating class and the 2021 graduating class gaining their Dogwood in the summer of 2021.

The 2020 class could attend class one or two times a week in the fall, then ramping up to full attendance in the spring of 2021. Of course the local school boards will not like this which is why the minister of education must get involved.

The Ministry of Education must directly run the school system for the next 18 months to prevent bureaucratic malaise which will greatly affect those children who planned to graduate in 2020. If no action is taken by the NDP and local school boards, then I must assume children do not come first and instead they are seen as a disposable commodity; a nuisance which government has washed its hands of.

Bold action must be taken in this disastrous year and, yes, children must come first.

Malcolm Johnston

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