Prom and other year-end celebrations could be back to pre-pandemic normals for this year’s graduating classes in B.C. (Pixabay photo)

Prom and other year-end celebrations could be back to pre-pandemic normals for this year’s graduating classes in B.C. (Pixabay photo)

Prom planning can move ahead as usual in Abbotsford, superintendent says

Year-end celebrations may not be impacted by COVID-19 for the first time since 2019

The pandemic has eased off enough that planning is moving full steam ahead for Abbotsford’s prom and other year-end festivities.

Superintendent Kevin Godden gave a rundown of COVID-19 affects within the school district at the April 12 board meeting.

He said planning for prom can move head “as we did pre-pandemic.”

The graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 both had their celebrations curtailed by pandemic restrictions.

But nobody is out of the woods yet. He also noted that at a conference in Ottawa earlier this month, he was made aware that some districts in Ontario are seeing a rise again in absenteeism.

And absenteeism is exactly how school districts can catch onto an outbreak in real time, Godden noted.

“That’s one activity signal we continue to pay attention to,” he said. If attendance drops more than 25 per cent over a five-day average, or if they experience a 50 per cent drop in attendance in a single day, the district will then be back in conversations with Fraser Health about next steps.

“Fraser Health is still available to us,” he assured the board.

He said the numbers are available to the district staff daily, and there is a discussion among senior staff weekly.

There are different reasons for absences, though, Godden added.

There are students and staff who are sick and can’t attend, but there are also those who fearful to attend, and those who are being “hyper cautious” because they are feeling symptomatic.

“We are investigating higher than normal absenteeism in our high schools,” he said, and they are finding that high school students feel they can keep up easily when feeling too sick to attend, because teachers are now using Google classrooms.

“This is something we are continually keeping an eye on,” he added. “We need the school to be a safe place to learn, but we also need to identify an outbreak.”

The easing of pandemic restrictions also means the Abbotsford Board of Education is back to meeting in person at the board office. The videos of the meetings are still available to view on YouTube, however there were audio and visual issues in the first 10 minutes of the April 12 meeting due to one trustee phoning in to the meeting via conference call.

READ MORE: End of vaccine card in B.C. too soon as BA.2 variant spreads: doctor


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