Polytechnic postpones graduation, university unsure

The traditional Otago Polytechnic graduands parade along George St, Dunedin, will not happen this...
The traditional Otago Polytechnic graduands parade along George St, Dunedin, will not happen this year. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Otago Polytechnic has postponed its end of year graduation due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The University of Otago is still awaiting guidance on whether it, too, will have to change upcoming graduations, but said it was likely those attending in person would have to be fully vaccinated.

Polytechnic chief executive Dr Megan Gibbons yesterday said its December ceremony had been postponed until March.

"This is not a decision that has been made lightly," she said.

"We know and appreciate that the celebration and acknowledgement of their mahi is an important part of the learner journey and a proud moment for whanau, our community and staff."

After looking at alternative venues, as well as restrictions on numbers, physical distancing and the challenge of some students and family in areas that might still be in lockdown at the proposed timing of the ceremony, postponing was seen as the safest course of action, she said.

"We realise this is disappointing for our learners and for our staff who have worked so hard.

"However, this is a postponement not a cancellation," Ms Gibbons made clear.

The revised ceremony date was Thursday, March 10, which will precede the polytechnic’s annual scheduled March graduation, to be held the following day.

Both events will be held at the Dunedin Town Hall.

A university spokeswoman said students were notified last month that it would provide more advice later this month once plans developed further in response to Government requirements and public health advice.

They were also advised the deadline for students to withdraw from the December graduations had been extended to Monday, November 22.

At this stage, there were six university graduation ceremonies scheduled for December.

The university’s website said it was "extremely likely that physical attendance at graduation will require all graduands and guests to be vaccinated against Covid-19".

Otago Primary Principals’ Association president Gareth Swete said prizegiving restrictions would change from school to school.

Each school had different potential to meet the health and safety requirements, which meant some schools could hold prizegiving with limited numbers on site while others might opt for a streamed celebration. It was about trying to allow parents to continue having involvement at school while meeting the requirements, he said.

The Southern Institute of Technology did not respond to questions yesterday. — Additional reporting Wyatt Ryder

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