Prom has been officially cancelled for 2021 Abbotsford high school graduates.
Abbotsford school district superintendent Kevin Godden informed Grade 12 students and their families of the news in a notice sent out on Feb. 17.
Godden cited the restrictions still in place for gatherings and public events set by the province of British Columbia.
“As upsetting as this news is, we want you to know that the decision was not made lightly and we had hoped we could still hold this memorable event for our students,” he stated in the notice. “Additionally, I would ask students and parents to assist us by not hosting private unsanctioned prom events in the coming months, as this will put many community members at risk.”
This marks the second straight year that prom events have been cancelled by the school district.
Godden said the convocation process will move forward and will be the same format as last year. The event will respect physical distancing and mask guidelines, allow for each grad to be celebrated in person, and provide a live-streaming and virtual celebration that families can view.
The convocation ceremonies will allow graduates to cross the stage with two representatives from their family present at the Abbotsford Arts Centre. More details will be revealed in the early spring. Godden said he believes the class of 2021 will step up during these challenging times.
“You have demonstrated that you have the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances, which is a skill that will serve you well as you move forward in life,” he said of the 2021 grad class. “We look forward to celebrating your achievements with you, your family and friends in virtual and safe ways.”
Mixed reactions about the decision were posted on social media, with some parents saying although the measures are disappointing, they believe they are necessary to protect public health.
“My kids are OK without grad. I have two that are in this graduating year. They understand what an exposure could mean. Parents need to prep their children for what sacrifices have to be made. If we as parents get all dramatic and feel victimized, so will the kids,” one parent wrote.
Others argue that if kids can gather in classrooms, they should be able to celebrate together.
“The government keeps talking about caring about kids’ mental health. They can go to dance, sports and youth, but they can’t have their right of passage,” said one parent.
Another wrote: “If they can attend school, then they can do a very COVID-friendly event. Prom is less capacity than a school day … I think they aren’t living up to what they are capable of doing at this time. It’s very sad they aren’t even doing something simple.”