The Ministry of Education has issued temporary changes to the community involvement graduation policy for the 2020-21 school year. These temporary changes are there to reduce barriers students may face and make it easier for students to earn community involvement. Currently, the Ministry has reduced the total number of hours required for students graduating in the 2020-21 school year to 20 hours from the usual 40 hours.
Along with reducing the number of hours required for 2021 graduates, the Ministry is waiving a number of policy restrictions, as follows, at the principal’s discretion:
1. Schools may allow students to earn hours during the time allotted for the instructional program on a school day;
2. Schools may allow students to earn hours through duties normally performed in the home; and
3. Schools may allow students aged 14 years and older to count up to a maximum of 10 hours from paid employment towards their earned hours. 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.
In addition, the Ministry has waived the requirement that schools use paper-based forms and is permitting the development of processes for collecting, recording and validating hours, including allowing electronic signatures that best meet the needs of the school. The digital Community Service Form is located on the “SCHOOL” tab of this FMM School Website.
Students should continue to seek out and accumulate community involvement hours in accordance with school board policies and procedures, keeping in mind local public health unit recommendations. Students are encouraged to consider virtual volunteering. There are a number of organizations that provide virtual volunteer opportunities for students. Some of these volunteer opportunities can be found through agencies such as Spark Ontario.
The following list provides some examples of flexible ways’ students could earn community involvement hours in keeping with the purpose of the policy, which is to encourage students to develop awareness and understanding of civic responsibility and of the role they can play and the contributions they can make in supporting and strengthening their communities, including:
Providing tutoring and mentorship supports through:
○ Virtual tutoring to help students with reading, communication and/or other skills
○ Teaching online music or dance lessons
○ Hosting art classes for younger students
○ Assisting siblings and/or younger students with online learning and schoolwork
Connecting with and supporting seniors by:
○ Conversing with seniors virtually, for example, acting as technology mentors or providing a regular check-in to address isolation and build cross-generational friendships
○ Joining or creating a letter-writing campaign to seniors
○ Delivering groceries to elderly/immunocompromised neighbours
Supports for families, neighbourhoods and community initiatives:
○ Supporting a family by walking a younger child to and from school
○ Participating in donation pick-ups for not-for-profit organizations
○ Coordinating a donation event with a local organization such as a shelter
○ Facilitating discussions with newcomer youth or families to help them learn about their new community
○ Sewing masks to donate to social agencies
○ Shoveling snow and/or performing yard work for a family or neighbour’s family due to extenuating circumstances
○ Taking part in neighbourhood litter-pick-up hour
Utilizing social media to connect with their community by:
○ Organizing a virtual reading or math activity for their feeder elementary schools
○ Creating a transition support video for Grade 8 students
○ Doing a musical performance that could provide entertainment for seniors
○ Encouraging people to donate through various social media platforms to food banks or other not-for-profit organizations
○ Creating a flyer for promotion on social media for a local cause
This is not an exhaustive list. We encourage students and families to utilize their resources and community contacts to engage in these activities.