Minimum Graduation Requirements for Community Service Hours Go From 40 to 20

Ahyan K. reads a book to his younger sister, an activity that will now earn him volunteer hours. Photo by Fatima Khan.

As high school students have adjusted to school amidst the chaos of a pandemic, meeting community service hours requirements and finding volunteer opportunities can be nearly impossible with so many places shut down.

Since the pandemic began, the Ministry of Education has changed the rules pertaining to community service hours. This year’s graduates have had the minimum requirement for community service hours cut in half- from 40 hours to 20. The Ministry recognized that the 40 hours of involvement might be difficult to complete this year.

Ahyan K., a grade 9 student at WCI, expressed his concerns about volunteering. “I’m not sure where to volunteer this year, I don’t really know when COVID-19 will end, but I want to get my volunteer hours done before I get too busy. The older grades are always talking about how hard school gets, so I know I won’t have time then.”

WRDSB has also suggested many ways to earn hours while movement and interaction are restricted by COVID19 guidelines. Doing tasks such as helping a younger sibling, raking the leaves, or creating an entertaining video can now earn students volunteer hours. 

Ms. Crosby, a guidance counselor at WCI, was asked if students are making any complaints. She responded, “No, not really – most are happy to hear that the rules are easier now; there are more options to get [their hours] in their own home/neighbourhood.”

Apart from completing tasks at home, places such as the Volunteer Action Centre in Kitchener also provide numerous opportunities for students in person and online.

Sarah Ruth, a youth coordinator at the Volunteer Action Centre explained that many students have been eager to volunteer, but that for the most part, non-profit organizations are being cautious about in-person volunteering. 

Places such as the Food Bank and Pride Stables require, and are actively seeking, in-person help. Ruth also explained that there are many online volunteers who help through the Kitchener library from reading to doing arts and crafts with children.

After a student receives their hours they must input their information into a program called MYWAY. The newest feature is digitally tracking a student’s community service hours. 

Screenshot of MYWAY volunnteer hours input .

The new system only requires the online form to be filled in by the student, which includes the sponsor’s contact information, unlike the old system which required a tracking record sheet and physical signature. The hours are then approved by their guidance counselor and automatically added to their record. 

Students can get involved with the Volunteer Action Centre through their social media platforms.