At least one international student has found herself in academic limbo this year, as all students who graduated from Ontario high schools in the spring still haven't received their diplomas due to delays caused by the pandemic.
CBC News spoke with Aria Zhang, 17, whose application for a student visa to study in South Korea depends on getting her diploma. But she was told her school board would not be able to provide it.
"I feel a little bit mad because it takes too long time," she said in an interview.
There are more than half a million international students in Canada. It's hard to know how many are in the same situation as Zhang, as there are no figures on how many wish to study in universities outside the country. But her problem is just one of many disruptions the novel coronavirus has caused for foreign students attending school here.
Zhang came to Canada to study three years ago from Dalian, a port city in northern China that's a little more than 500 kilometres from the border with North Korea.
After graduating from Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School in Oakville, Ont. in June, she was going to attend university in Canada, but she decided to take a gap year.
She then decided to take Korean language courses at Kyungil University outside the city of Daegu, 237 kilometres southeast of Seoul, but found out South Korean officials needed her diploma to issue her a student visa.
"I even tried to offer some documents, like my report card," she told CBC News.
But not even a notarized copy of her final transcript was enough.
CBC News also spoke with several high school students who confirmed they did not receive a diploma, but because they're attending Canadian colleges and universities, a transcript was enough to secure a spot.
"George Brown College let me choose my courses and let me in," said Li Jiaxin, in Mandarin.
She is starting her first year at the college Sept. 8.
"They were lenient about me not having a diploma and said I could submit it later."
Province distributes diplomas
In a statement, the Ontario Ministry of Education, which is responsible for distributing the diplomas, said it "has had to adapt as a result of the school closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak."
The ministry said schools and school boards were told in early August the diplomas and certificates would be shipped to schools early in the 2020-21 academic year once schools reopen, and told CBC News it's aiming for the second half of September to issue them.
That might not help Zhang, however.
"I feel worried because my visa in Canada will expire at the end of September."