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Photo of graduating students in 2019

Editor’s Note: Student departure and arrival dates below have been shared with students and families. While we fully expect to hold to these dates, please note that it is always possible that these will be revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will inform families of any updates as needed.

Well, not quite normal, but the end of the 2020-21 school year is fast approaching, bringing with it familiar scenarios like intense bouts of studying for final IB exams, polishing off almost-completed projects, handing off and tone-setting from second to first years, figuring out how to make bay jumps COVID-safe, planning Grad/leaving events and ceremonies in earnest, and looking ahead to next fall.

Safe, supervised and celebratory, end-of-year Bay Jumps into Pedder Bay are a long-held tradition at year-end. This, like all activities and events on campus or including students, will be reviewed by our COVID-19 Working Group and the College’s standing safety committee and only approved if health and safety protocols can be respected.

Other unique Pearson traditions, such as the Transition Circle, Graduation and Envelope ceremonies, will similarly go through comprehensive risk assessments. Event plans are created by organizers – which can include students, faculty or staff, or all of the above – and these, together with follow-up questions and clarifications, form the basis of the rigorous risk assessment.

Year-end events, mostly planned for the 21-24 May period, take on a deep meaning for students who are leaving or transitioning to a more senior second-year role and for the entire faculty, staff and resident communities. Particularly in this year, in which the pandemic has posed so many challenges to “normal” learning opportunities, fun activities and to our individual and collective mental health, education and community leaders on campus are dedicated to creating meaningful moments to acknowledge, memorialize and, maybe even to consider and learn from the moments we might otherwise wish to forget.

As our Dean of Students, Kim Meredith, observed, the Transition Circle is a powerful symbolic closing ceremony that is held outdoors. It is a silent ceremony to recognize that first-year students are becoming second years and normally means both cohorts are together outdoors, often in the evening and watched over by the entire community.

A risk assessment will take into account the need to separate student cohorts, masking, distancing, limitations on campus community observers and any other public health considerations advised at that moment.

A graduation and envelop ceremonies are typically separate events – the former a more-recently introduced “traditional walk-across-a-stage-to-accept-your-UWC diploma” rite and the latter a more informal, outdoor occasion at which first-years share a short speech about their second-year buddy and give them an envelope of heartfelt messages from the community.

Again, in this year, these will be reconsidered, re-imagined and re-configured to keep students and our entire community safe in a celebratory time of year.

In the last few years, second-years have been invited to an annual Alumni for Life session hosted by our Alumni Relations Director Benoît Charlebois. This session, to be conducted virtually this spring, is designed to encourage students leaving the College to consider how they can live and represent UWC values throughout their lives and careers and how maintaining UWC connections beyond school can not only be inspiring but can also provide mentorship, fellowship, advice…and some great international recipes!

25 May Departure Day

Recently we confirmed for students, parents and families that 25 May was departure day for students. As we have been since the first arrivals last August, we continue to be committed to support all students with their academic needs and wellbeing until departure day.

As the process of travelling from campus to different parts of the world and even other parts of Canada remains complex due to the pandemic, we are encouraging students and families to book their flight tickets home as soon as possible. We are also strongly encouraging students and families to keep a close eye on ever-shifting COVID-related requirements for domestic and international travel so that they are not unnecessarily delayed in their travels.

Our staff continue to work with travel experts to help get students home with, all things considered, the least disruption possible. Questions about travel can be directed to admissions@pearsoncollege.ca.

This year, as in every year, accommodation arrangements for any student who chooses to remain in Victoria or elsewhere in Canada after the school year-end are the responsibility of students and families. The College cannot be responsible or liable for student accommodation nor can host family accommodations be arranged by the school after the departure date. (*Normal, limited exceptions pertaining to students on financial assistance or in, for example, refugee situations are granted on a needs basis.)

Students who may wish to remain for the summer, are recommended to reach out to their Canadian friends to find out if there is someone who is willing to host them and/or to contact their respective National Committees for assistance in identifying someone in Canada who may be able to host.

Year 47 students returning to campus as second years and are not required to be quarantined (students who already live in Canada) must arrive on 3 September however, those who need to quarantine must arrive on 20 August 2021. More on that, obviously, later! In the meantime, we wish you a good season, no matter which hemisphere you’re in!