Thunder Bay

Keeping schools closed is 'appropriate' decision, Lakehead Public Schools director of education says

The director of education with Lakehead Public Schools says the province's decision to keep schools in Ontario closed until September was the "appropriate one."

Province announced Tuesday Ontario schools will remain closed until September due to COVID-19

Ian MacRae, director of education with Lakehead Public Schools, says the board is working out how it can recognize this year's high school graduates, despite the COVID-19 pandemic preventing traditional convocation ceremonies from taking place. (lakeheadpublicschools.ca)

The director of education with Lakehead Public Schools says the province's decision to keep schools in Ontario closed until September due to the COVID-19 pandemic was "the appropriate one."

"It's not that it was totally unexpected," Ian MacRae said Tuesday, after the announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford.

MacRae said students will continue with at-home learning, which he said is meeting the needs of most students.

And while the provincial plan to re-open schools hasn't yet been released — education minister Stephen Lecce said details would be coming by the end of June — MacRae said things will likely look different in Thunder Bay schools come September.

"We think everyone will start on the same footing in September," he said. "It'll look very different, I think, both physically, and in terms of the pedagogy involved, but I'm sure it's nothing that we can't overcome."

"I don't think anyone should ever underestimate how resilient students are, and their skills, I think, will do them well in any catch-up activities that are undertaken."

The pandemic has also forced school boards to change how they handle high school graduations.

On Tuesday, the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board announced it was postponing convocation this year. The board normally holds its convocation ceremony at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.

The Catholic board's two high schools, St. Ignatius and St. Patrick, are instead planning on holding virtual convocation ceremonies at the end of June. They're being planned in consultation with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, the board said.

MacRae said the public board is also working out a way to recognize its high school graduates safely this year.

"We're looking at a variety of things," he said. "I think we'll have a surprise for students come the end of the year."