Tens of thousands of Year 12 students and their parents have called on the NSW Government to rework new COVID-19 guidelines banning school formals and graduations for the remainder of Term 3.
In short: Some folks are absolutely stinging for a dance, considering the unique hell of finishing high school during a pandemic.
On Monday, the NSW Government declared that “School formals, dances, graduation or other social events are not permitted” for the remainder of the term, among other measures designed to limit student mingling.
“Schools may hold a Year 12 assembly at school without parents to recognise the completion of school or consider delaying events until later in the year,” the guidelines state.
While the NSW Government maintains schools themselves are safe, the announcement spelled the end for traditional end-of-school events across the state.
The ABC reports that concerned Central Coast mum Debbie Terrantroy kicked off an online petition after her sons, Jackson and Harrison Wedesweiler, had their formals and graduation ceremonies unceremoniously axed.
Terrantroy said it was “unfair” that schools should be forced to cancel or indefinitely postpone those gatherings while NSW guidelines technically permit hospitality venues to host up to 300 people on each premise.
“Why are schools not being given the option of holding multiple staged graduation assemblies which would allow for social distancing measures so parents can attend & be part of this milestone in their children’s lives?” she wrote in the description of her Change.org petition, which now boasts more than 30,000 signatures.
Speaking to the ABC, Terrantroy also expressed her concerns that nixing formals could have a negative impact on students’ mental health.
That’s to say nothing of COVID-19’s potential impact on Schoolies.
Again, the new guidelines don’t ban formals for the remainder of the year. There’s still hope for some kind of ceremony at the tail end of Term 4, but that seems contingent on the state’s coronavirus numbers.
NSW yesterday tallied seven new cases, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying state authorities are worried about community transmission in Sydney’s west and south-west.
“Anytime any of us leave the house, especially if we live in western and south-western Sydney, we have to assume we have been exposed to the virus, and we have to make that assumption every day,” Berejiklian said.
For now, the official advice is bleak: Mask up, and dress down.