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Secondary School Graduation Update  

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Secondary School Graduation Update  

With only a few months remaining in the 2020-21 school year, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board wants to provide Grade 12 students and their families some updates surrounding graduation requirements.  

  • Community Involvement Hours  
  • Secondary Graduation Ceremonies  
  • Online OSSLT Test  

Community Involvement Hours  

For the 2020-21 school year, the Ministry of Education revised the 40-hour community involvement graduation requirement so that students will not be adversely impacted by COVID-19. For students graduating in the 2020-21 school year, the requirement has been reduced to a minimum of 20 hours of community involvement activities. In addition, the ministry has provided increased flexibility in how all secondary students can earn hours in 2020-21, as follows: 

  1. At the principal’s discretion, schools may waive the restrictions that do not allow students to earn hours during the time allotted for the instructional program on a school day, or duties normally performed in the home (e.g., walking a younger child to and from school, helping younger siblings with school work). 
  2. Students aged 14 years and older can count up to a maximum of 10 hours from paid employment towards their earned hours at the discretion of the principal. Students counting paid employment towards their graduation requirement will be required to complete a reflection exercise indicating how their work contributed to the service for others. 

For more information, including examples of community involvement hours, volunteer opportunities at your school, and relevant forms, visit our Community Involvement Hours webpage 

Secondary Graduation Ceremonies

When planning for graduation ceremonies, HWDSB has carefully considered rules pertaining to organized public events and social gatherings. As outlined in the Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools, schools and school boards are expected to promote physical distancing, cohorting, and avoiding activities that may result in close contacts with others (e.g., school gatherings/school assemblies). 

In addition, the City of Hamilton follows the Ontario Framework for Reopening set by the provincial government. This includes the five colour zones of public health measures. Currently, Hamilton is in the Red – Control zone and outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people outdoors for public events, for example.  

HWDSB recently organized a Thoughtexchange survey to talk about graduation. We asked Grade 12 students and their families to use their best creative thinking to imagine different ways we can hold graduation ceremonies under potential COVID restrictions.  

More than 1,100 participants contributed to the Thoughtexchange. We want to thank those who participated in the collection of ideas and considerations.  

A suggestion to host graduations on a school field emerged as a theme. We considered this option very carefully and thank everyone for providing this suggestion. Due to the uncertainty of the third wave, not knowing where Hamilton will be in the Ontario Framework for Reopening and as we adhere to the enhanced public health measures, graduations on fields will not take place. Also, a socially distance graduation on a field does not comply with the Ontario regulations of 100 people outdoors. 

As we considered the common themes of the results, graduation ceremonies will be coordinated by each school. Schools will plan for ceremonies that are based on a walk/drive-through graduations format. HWDSB will also support the purchase of school signs that our grads can display at their homes to celebrate and recognize their achievement. Details related to specific graduation ceremonies will be made at each secondary school in the coming weeks. 

Online OSSLT Test 

HWDSB has decided that it will not take part in the online version of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). The test is being administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) and participation is not mandatory.

Updated on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
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