On balance the public behaved reasonably well - there were exceptions but the message has certainly gotten through.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 3rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was the first really nice sunny warm day since the decision was made to lock down the province with the Mayor telling anyone with ears to stay home – and when they do go out for some exercise to walk and not stop to talk.

The only way, the public has been told, to put an end to the pandemic is to ensure that the virus is not spread from person to person.

The Regional Public Health unit produces daily reports showing that infections in the Region are rising every day – not by a huge number – but they are rising.

That curve we have been told about is not flattening.

But – sunshine, good weather – what do people do?

Playground beachway

Playground was vacant – surrounded by yellow tape.

I drove around the city in the northern part and then down into the waterfront and along the Beachway.

A couple of things were immediately evident. There were more police vehicles on the street; there were a lot of bikers roaring along and hundreds of young people on their bikes.

The vehicular traffic was not really heavy. On the residential streets most driveways had several cars parked.
I didn’t see very much in the way of sidewalk crowding.

Wore mask

Some people wore masks – which they slipped away from their faces once they were outside the supermarket.

Some people wore masks, some didn’t. Did see one couple – she wore nothing – he wore a mask and a shield.

There were children out and about but there weren’t hundreds of them.

People were respecting that six foot rule – for the most part.

Fortino

Each of the major supermarket chains has taken their own approach to staking out how they choose to respond to the public concern. Business for this sector is great.

Brant and Lakeshore is definitely the pinch point the Mayor has mentioned several times.
Supermarket parking lots, as well as Costco weren’t packed solid but there was a steady flow of traffic in and out.

Lowvillw Park

Lowville Park – CLOSED

Mt Nemo

Mt Nemo -CLOSED

Parks were all closed. Saw a couple of coffee shops that were opened but you couldn’t sit down.

Queen's Head patio

A hard sight for those who enjoy a cold one while sitting out on a patio.

The Queen’s Head patio was barren – a terrible sight for a drinking man.

Promenade well spaced

People were reasonable spaced, most people respected the pedestrians only rule.

Pedestrian traffic on the Promenade was steady and for the most part well-spaced out.

The message has certainly been heard and there didn’t appear to be a lot of worry from the people we spoke to – tough to have much in the way of a conversation six feet away from someone.

Two weeks from now we will see new numbers from the Public Health Unit and get some idea if our individual behavior is working.

I stood and watch small groups, 10 to 15 people, gather at intersections; some wearing masks other less than a foot away from people who were not wearing a mask.

Brant - Lkshore crossing

This is probably the location that bothers the public health people the most – Brant and Lakeshore – where people cross to get into Spencer Smith Park.

City manager Tim Commisso said last week that he shudders when he thinks about what could be going on amongst those small groups of 10 to 15 people.

We will know soon enough.

The Provincial government wants to open things up – give people some breathing room and let some business operations open up.

It is going to be tricky; these are perilous times.

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Providing food for those who are self-isolating has created a complex supply chain

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 29th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington is very good at stepping up to the plate and filling a need.

What caring people have managed to do is create a supply chain that gets food to the Food Bank who in turn deliver it to people who, in some cases, are self-isolating and not able to get out to buy food.

Bailey Food Bank March 31-20

Robin Bailey does a short web site broadcast most days – keeping donors and those who need food up to date.

The Food Bank has exceptional sources and were recently given significant sums to buy food.

Fresh vegetables and eggs are now being delivered to homes. The Food Bank has succeeded in teaching people to call in for food rather than drop by the Food Band to pick it up – which cuts down on people getting too close to each other.

One of the gaps in this food chain is personal toiletries and canned goods.

Face Mask Sign

If you need a mask – take a couple of cans of food to St Matthews Anglican church on Plains Road in Aldershot and pick up a mask when you leave.

St Matthews in Aldershot has stepped into the gap and is collecting toiletries and canned goods.

They have set up a space outside their front door that is protected from weather where people can drop of the things that are needed.

Jim Young, one of the Aldershot volunteers said in a note he sent out to his circle of influence; “Just passing along some information on an Aldershot/Ward 1 initiative to help keep local food banks stocked and operating during these difficult times.

“I know I’ve sent this before but it is an ongoing need and it would be wonderful if ongoing donations could be received.

Food notice St Matthews“It is a joint effort by St Mathews Anglican Church, Partnering Aldershot and ECoB Ward 1, and is operated by volunteers from each organization.

“The Drive Thru donation is set up to be a safe, no contact, distanced method of giving.

“Please share this information as widely as you can. Think of it as a great way to get out of the house for twenty minutes while supporting a very worthwhile cause, made all the more essential in tough times.”

Connie Price added that the donations on Monday were a little on the short side; she urged people to step up on Wednesday (today) when the boxes are set out in front of the church between noon and 3:00 pm Monday and Wednesday.

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Coping: Week 6 - it has come to listing the ups and the downs

graphic coping redBy Nicki St George

April 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Nicki St George is the mother of two, lives in Aldershot and teaches at a private school in Oakville. She is also a recovering cancer patient.

WEEK 6 – seriously?
As the days are becoming indistinguishable from one another, here are some ups and downs during my time in self-isolation:

The UPS:
• When a box is delivered, and you cannot remember what it could be because you have ordered so much crap over the last 6 weeks.

St George kids in big bed with cat Apr 27

Clifford the cat and the kids – in their parents bed.

• Clifford the cat – my self-isolation guru.

• When the makers of Candy Crush give the gift of unlimited lives for a whole week!

• Having the time to make homemade hamburger buns and other treats.

• Puzzles – Now that everyone is into doing puzzles, I do not feel like quite as big a nerd.

• No sport on TV = nothing left for my husband and I to fight about.

• Learning a new language while binge watching Money Heist.

• Saying goodbye on Zoom or Houseparty…you just hang up! No more awkward goodbyes at the door.

• Saving money on car insurance because you are no longer driving to work every day.

• Bringing out the patio furniture and setting up the trampoline. It’s starting to feel a little like summer.

• Less laundry…just choose your legging/sweat top combo for the week and you’re good to go.

• The magical hour around 5pm every day when a glass of wine and favourite song provide me with the motivation to dance and cook dinner.

• Discovering a new podcast.

The DOWNS:
• Temperatures in the single digits in April…or worse, snow!

Thank you drawing

Results of a parent led art class

• The annoying soundtrack of Beatrix’s YouTube videos which have become ambient noise in the house.

• My embarrassingly high score on Candy Crush.

• Where do all the charging cables keep disappearing to?

• Making plans for the summer…

• Google classroom on the iPad: why can’t I just write on the document?

• Sad husband because there is no sport on TV.

• Finding out that schools will remain closed until at least May 31st – SERENITY NOW!

• Doing your tax return – the worst part of being an adult.

• Getting the weekly alert telling me what the average daily screen time was last week…gulp.

• The absurd volume of new passwords to remember for accessing homeschool websites.

• Deciding what PPE to don on the weekly trip to the grocery store – how many times can I reuse this same mask?

• At home haircuts…they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

• Finding the motivation to do at home workouts and complete assignments for grad school.

• Being interrupted by children asking for TV during a work Zoom call -this was not on the list of pre-approved activities.

• Google Play charging $19.95 to RENT Trolls 2 – how dare they?

• Discarded latex gloves left on the ground: so uncool.

Previous columns:

The idea

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 5

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The future of school - are we learning that there are some advantages to on-line learning? Something to think about

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

graphic coping blue

We asked the two women who are providing Gazette readers with an ongoing commentary on how things are going in their households with the schools being closed. The province’s decision to keep the schools closed until the end of May might create situations that will be difficult for many parents.

Ashley Worobec, the Chiropractor who runs long distances when she can find the time, said she “didn’t have much to say –  It really doesn’t change anything for us- we were expecting the date to be delayed, which it has been, and we’re prepping ourselves mentally for the possibility that the next extension will end the school year entirely.

Worobec BIG sheet RIGHT

The Worobec family created a mammoth Task list to give the new approach to education some structure.

“I do like how they’ve decided to watch and wait instead of just cancelling the school year entirely like some other provinces have, as that’s given us hope instead of looking ahead to months and months without school.  At least this way, there’s still a glimmer of hope.”

Ashley’s two children seem to be coping quite well – the task list picture tells part of the story for their household.

Nicki St George said she “finds it frustrating to be stuck at home while the school closure date keeps getting pushed back further and further. It only serves to foster more uncertainty for myself and the kids. We are fortunate to have the time and technology available to facilitate learning from home but many people do not.

Nicki 1 Apr 21

Getting them outdoors where they can burn off some of that energy.

“Considering the preliminary data which suggests that school closures will have little impact on the spread of the virus, I think that the harms of keeping schools closed (specifically elementary schools) will likely outweigh the benefits.”

Mixed views.

One of the major issues during the months of short term school strikes was the number of On-line courses students were going to be required to take – with the strikes now settled teachers find themselves delivering every hour of instruction on-line.

Something ironic about how that turned out  – teachers will get to learn that some courses can be done very well on-line and some parents might come to the realization that on-line instruction can be very effective in some situations.

The school boards take direction from the province.  However, the school boards are the people that are going to have to deal with the disruption in the delivery of an education.  They also have to look at the impact of the disruption on the quality of the education they deliver.

Moving from the end of elementary school and on into high school is a major right of passage for students.  But what if high school starts with an hour in front of a computer monitor?

That’s an issue that senior school board staff find themselves thinking about.

 

 

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Schedule for school operation is set out; Premier to talk about opening up the economy this afternoon

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Lecce Miniter of Education

Education Minister Stephen Lecce

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on the weekend that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31, 2020, as part of an effort to keep students, staff and families safe from COVID-19.

The extension was based on expert advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health officials on the COVID-19 Command Table and is part of the government’s ongoing effort to stop the spread of the virus. The advice was to extend school closures for an additional period of time to permit updated modelling and data to inform next steps, given the government’s absolute commitment to safety.

“We will do whatever it takes to keep our students safe,” said Minister Lecce. “The government is taking a careful approach which provides our medical experts the time to review the modelling and make the best decision for the safety of our students and the future of learning.”

The government took immediate action to close schools in Ontario, the first in Canada to do so. The ministry continues to monitor the evolving situation and if necessary, the closure may be extended further to protect the health and safety of Ontario’s school communities.

At the same time the Ontario government is taking steps to ensure learning can continue. In March the province unveiled its Learn at Home portal. It offers all students high-quality resources, featuring made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French. Elementary resources are designed to help young students learn at home with interactive activities that encourage participation through entertaining and stimulating digital content. High school content was designed with a focus on STEM courses and ensures core competencies and skills are reinforced.

Central High school

There won’t be a graduation ceremony and no prom either – but depend on the students to come up with something to celebrate leaving high school.

“Regardless of what transpires over the coming weeks, Ontario’s students will be able to complete their school year with confidence,” added Minister Lecce. “In particular, for students in their final year, we are removing all impediments to ensure students graduate and pursue post-secondary education.”
In the event that they do reopen, school employees will have access as of May 29, 2020.

The Ministry of Education will move forward to replace the remainder of Professional Activity (PA) days and examination days with instructional time, as well as the introduction of an expanded summer learning program that will focus on credit recovery, supports for vulnerable students, and course upgrading. Boards are to find solutions at the local level in keeping with this direction while upholding collective agreement obligations.

The Minister of Education later said that the next time he makes a public announcement it will be to set out how the balance of the school year will be dealt with.

Later today Premier Doug Ford will unveil the framework for re-opening the province.

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Sun rise runs, move onto schoolwork, afternoons whatever-we-feel-like.

 

The Gazette has put together a team of parents who are at home taking care of their children while the province goes through school closures and the shut down of everything other than essential services.

Ashley Worobec  and Nicki St. George will write regularly on how they are coping.  We invite parents to take part in this initiative by adding comments to each Coping with COVID19 & the kids article.

 

graphic coping blueBy Ashley Worobec

April 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Our mornings have still been a bit more structured and afternoons tend to be more whatever-we-feel-like.

One thing that I’ve found helpful for my Type-A personality, is writing out a list of the next day’s activities/tasks on the whiteboard on our fridge. Mornings almost always begin with a 5k run for myself and my dog, with my husband on the bike beside me, and more often than not, at least one of the kids comes on their bike too.

I haven’t been setting an alarm clock though, and in my “normal” life I’m often up at 4:45 or 5am, and out the door for my runs- these days I’m sleeping until I naturally wake up, which has been closer to 7:30 or 8am!

baking

Baking is a constant and consistent activity in the Worobec household.

I have been thinking about getting up for a sunrise run here and there, as the sunrise is my favourite time of the day, and it would also give me some solitude. I’m an introvert by nature, so I re-charge with alone time, and that’s been much harder to come by lately. Perhaps a sunrise run will happen next week….

After my run, we move onto schoolwork. I’m the one who tends to supervise the kids during their schoolwork, as my husband uses this time to do his own online work with his students (he’s a high school teacher). Depending on the day, this has usually been taking my kids 1-2 hours to complete. My son is in Grade 5 and my daughter is in Grade 2, and they seem to be adapting to e-learning quite well.

Both of their teachers have been exceptional, and have been great at providing a variety of assignments and tasks for them, and I know my kids miss seeing them in person. Both kids have been using FaceTime regularly to “see” their friends, and that’s been a big help to them.

We’re into week 7 now of the clinic closure, and Saskatchewan has announced that chiropractors can return to work (with appropriate PPE in place) on May 4th, so my colleagues and I have been closely watching that situation. It is quite a helpless feeling to have the clinic closed, but my work team is having online meetings twice per week to stay in touch and keep our morale high.

I’m also keeping in touch with some of my patients via virtual or telephone consultations, and that’s been really helpful for me personally, as it’s given me a sense of purpose surrounding my work and a small feeling of being able to help my patients who are in pain. I am anxious to return to work, and hopeful with the trending numbers that Ontario is showing.

One initiative that I have just begun is hosting “Movement You”, which is a 10-minute workout, LIVE online on my Facebook and Instagram pages (search “Dr. Ashley Worobec”)- it’s a way for me to connect with my community and to encourage my patients to stay active and moving, which is something I believe passionately in.

Last Friday was the first time doing this, and it was a wild success, with my kids participating in the workout too. I plan on making this a weekly thing, every Friday at 11:45am, with movements that people can do easily in their living rooms.

A couple of other fun things we did this week:

kids magic show

Virtual magic show for the relatives in Alberta

1. My kids put on a virtual magic show for our relatives in Alberta. I grew up in Alberta and my extended family is all still out West, so my kids are very used to using online platforms to talk to their grandparents and Aunts and Uncles. They looked up magic tricks on YouTube, practiced them, and then set up a little show. Their cousins and my parents loved it, and they were really proud of themselves.

2. We baked 5 dozen pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and then packaged them up and dropped them off on friend’s porches throughout the City, along with notes of support and encouragement.

3. We did a workout called “Heidi,” in honour of Constable Heidi Stevenson, who was tragically killed in the Nova Scotia shootings. I’m not sure who designed this workout, but this image has been circulating amongst the CrossFit community, and since my husband and I both go to a CrossFit gym, we jumped at this chance.

Heidi workout

A workout called “Heidi,” in honour of Constable Heidi Stevenson

It’s common for CrossFit to have “named workouts” based upon First Responder’s killed in the line of duty, and since our gym has loaned us some gym equipment to use at home, we did this workout in our driveway on Saturday afternoon- it’s 23 air squats, 23 pushups, 23 kettlebell swings, 23 jumping lunges, 23 situps, and 23 box jumps, as many rounds as possible for 23 minutes. The number 23 honours the fact that she served with the RCMP for 23 years.

4. We watched the “Stronger Together” Covid-19 broadcast benefit on CTV on Sunday evening, and especially loved the montage of “Lean On Me” at the end.

~

 

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Free software; free apps - sure - you get the functionality - they get you and all your data

background graphic greenBy Christopher Boyd

April 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

The Gazette uses Malware to secure its web sites. There are any number of software applications that can be used – we found Malware to work well for us.
One of the added values is a newsletter they publish. In the most recent version they published a piece of just what “free” software is all about. Well worth reading.

It’s almost impossible not to rely on social networks in some way, whether for personal reasons or business. Sites such as LinkedIn continue to blur the line, increasing the amount of social function over time with features and services resembling less formal sites, such as Facebook. Can anyone imagine not relying on, of all things, Twitter to catch up on breaking coronavirus news around the world instantly? The trade off is your data, and how they profit from it.

Like it or not—and it’s entirely possibly it’s a big slab of “not”—these services are here to stay, and we may be “forced” to keep using them. Some of the privacy concerns that lead people to say, “Just stop using them” are well founded. The reality, however, is not quite so straightforward.

Malware article graphicFor example, in many remote regions, Facebook or Twitter might be the only free Internet access people have. And with pockets of restriction on free press, social media often represents the only outlet for “truth” for some users. There are some areas where people can receive unlimited Facebook access when they top up their mobiles. If they’re working, they’ll almost always use Facebook Messenger or another social media chat tool to stay in touch rather than drain their SMS allowance.

Many of us can afford to walk away from these services; but just as many of us simply can’t consider it when there’s nothing else to take its place.

Mining for data (money) has never been so profitable.

But how did this come to be? In the early days of Facebook, it was hard to envision the platform being used to spread disinformation, assist in genocide, or sell user data to third-parties. We walk users through the social media business model and show how the inevitable happens: when a product is free, the commodity is you and your data.

Setting up social media shop

Often, Venture Capital backing is how a social network springs into life. This is where VC firms invest lots of money for promising-looking services/technology with the expectation they’ll make big money and gain a return on investment in the form of ownership stakes. When the company is bought out or goes public, it’s massive sacks of cash for everybody. (Well, that’s the dream. The reality is usually quite a bit more complicated).

It’s not exactly common for these high-risk gambles to pay off, and what often happens is the company never quite pops. They underperform, or key staff leave, and they expand a little too rapidly with the knock-on effect that the CEO suddenly has this massive service with millions of users and no sensible way to turn that user base into profit (and no way to retain order on a service rife with chaos).

At that point, they either muddle along, or they look to profit in other ways. That “other way” is almost always via user data. I mean, it’s all there, so why not? Here are just some of the methods social networks deploy to turn bums on seats into massive piles of cash.

Advertising on social media

This is the most obvious one, and a primary driver for online revenue for many a year. Social media platforms tend to benefit in a way other more traditional publishers cannot, and revenue streams appear to be quite healthy in terms of user-revenue generation.

Advertising is a straight-forward way for social media networks to not only make money from the data they’ve collected, but also create chains where external parties potentially dip into the same pool, too.

social media ad tableau

That advertisement, beneath the headline, offering a free report is an example of an advertiser using the Google AdSense platform to put their advertisement in front of the audience they want. The Gazette earns a couple of pennies for each that someone clicks on.

At its most basic, platforms can offer ad space to advertisers. Unlike traditional publishing, social media ads can be tailored to personalized data the social network sees you searching for, talking about, or liking daily. If you thought hitting “like” (or its equivalent) on a portal was simply a helpful thumbs up in the general direction of someone providing content, think again. It’s quite likely feeding data into the big pot of “These are the ads we should show this person.”

Not only is everything you punch into the social network (and your browser) up for grabs, but everything your colleagues and associates do too, tying you up in a neat little bow of social media profiling. All of it can then be mined to make associations and estimations, which will also feed back to ad units and, ultimately, profit.

Guesstimates are based on the interests of you, your family, your friends, and your friends’ friends, plus other demographic-specific clues, such as your job title, pictures of your home, travel experiences, cars, and marriage status. Likely all of these data points help the social network neatly estimate your income, another way to figure out which specific adverts to send your way.

After all, if they send you the wrong ads, they lose. If you’re not clicking through and popping a promo page, the advertisers aren’t really winning. All that ad investment is essentially going to waste unless you’re compelled to make use of it in some way.

Even selling your data to advertisers or other marketing firms could be on the table. Depending on terms of service, it’s entirely possible the social platforms you use can anonymise their treasure trove and sell it for top dollar to third parties. Even in cases where the data isn’t sold, simply having it out there is always a bit risky.

There have been many unrelated, non-social media instances where it turned out supposedly anonymous data, wasn’t. There are always people who can come along afterwards and piece it all together, and they don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to do it. All this before you consider social media sites/platforms with social components aren’t immune to the perils of theft, leakage, and data scraping.

As any cursory glance of a security news source will tell you, there’s an awful lot of rogue advertisers out there to offset the perfectly legitimate ones. Whether by purchase or stumbling upon data leaked online, scammers are happy to take social media data and tie it up in email/phone scams and additional fake promos. At that point, even data generated through theoretically legitimate means is being (mis)used in some way by unscrupulous individuals, which only harms the ad industry further.

Apps and ads

Moving from desktop to mobile is a smart move for social networks, and if they’re able to have you install an app, then so much the better (for them). Depending on the mobile platform, they may be able to glean additional information about sites, apps, services, and preferred functionalities, which wouldn’t necessarily be available if you simply used a mobile web browser.

If you browse for any length of time on a mobile device, you’ll almost certainly be familiar with endless pop-ups and push notifications telling you how much cooler and awesome the app version of site X or Y will be. You may also have experienced the nagging sensation that websites seem to degrade in functionality over time on mobile browsers.

Suddenly, the UI is a little worse. The text is tiny. Somehow, you can no longer find previously overt menu options. Certain types of content no longer display correctly or easily, even when it’s something as basic as a jpeg. Did the “Do you want to view this in the app?” popup reverse the positions of the “Yes” and “No” buttons from the last time you saw it? Are they trying to trick you into clicking the wrong thing? It’s hard to remember, isn’t it?

A cynic would say this is all par for the course, but this is something you’ve almost certainly experienced when trying to do anything in social land on a mobile minus an app.

Once you’re locked into said app, a brave new world appears in terms of intimately-detailed data collection and a huge selection of adverts to choose from. Some of them may lead to sponsored affiliate links, opening the data harvesting net still further, or lead to additional third-party downloads. Some of these may be on official platform stores, while others may sit on unofficial third-party websites with all the implied risk such a thing carries.

Even the setup of how apps work on the website proper can drive revenue. Facebook caught some heat back in 2008 for their $375USD developer fee. Simply having a mass of developers making apps for the platform—whether verified or not—generates data that a social network platform can make use of, then tie it back to their users.

It’s all your data, wheeling around in a tumble drier of analytics.

Payment for access/features

Gating access to websites behind paywalls is not particularly popular for the general public. Therefore, most sites with a social networking component will usually charge only for additional services, and those services might not even be directly related to the social networking bit.

LinkedIn is a great example of this: the social networking part is there for anybody to use because it makes all those hilariously bad road warrior lifestyle posts incredibly sticky, and humorous replies are often the way people first land on a profile proper. However, what you’re paying for is increased core functionality unrelated to the “Is this even real?” comedy posts elsewhere.

In social networking land, a non-payment gated approach was required for certain platforms. Orkut, for example, required a login to access any content. Some of the thinking there was that a gated community could keep the bad things out. In reality, when data theft worms started to spread, it just meant the attacks were contained within the walls and hit the gated communities with full force.

The knock-on effect of this was security researchers’ ability to analyse and tackle these threats was delayed because many of these services were either niche or specific to certain regions only. As a result, finding out about these attacks was often at the mercy of simply being informed by random people that “X was happening over in Y.”

These days, access is much more granular, and it’s up to users to display what they want, with additional content requiring you to be logged in to view.

Counting the cost

Of the three approaches listed above, payment/gating is one of the least popular techniques to encourage a revenue stream. Straight up traditional advertising isn’t as fancy as app/site/service integration, but it’s something pretty much anybody can use, which is handy for devs without the mobile know-how or funds available to help make it happen.

Even so, nothing quite compares to the flexibility provided by mobile apps, integrated advertising, and the potential for additional third-party installs. With the added boost to sticky installs via the pulling power of social media influencers, it’s possibly never been harder to resist clicking install for key demographics.

The most important question, then, turns out to be one of the most common: What are you getting in return for loading an app onto your phone?

It’s always been true for apps generally, and it’ll continue to be a key factor in social media mobile data mining for the foreseeable future. “You are the product” might be a bit long in the tooth at this point, but where social media is concerned, it’s absolutely accurate. How could the billions of people worldwide creating the entirety of the content posted be anything else?

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You can watch Therapy Dogs or take that First Aid course you've always wanted to register for - you're home all day aren't you?

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 20th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Everyone knows who the St. John Ambulance organization is – they are the people who give the First Aid course – or is that the Red Cross?

During this time of physical distancing, their Therapy Dogs of course cannot provide their usual canine comfort and care by visiting in person. However, they can still help break the sense of isolation and show the people we service how much we care, through ‘virtual visits’.

ST.jOHN DOG WITHMAN

Therapy dogs make the days of people who are in a long term care home when they visit.

In mid-March, they set up a St. John Ambulance Digital Therapy Dogs YouTube channel and invited our volunteers to submit video ‘letters’ about their dog. This was a chance to show the activities the dogs like to do when not being a Therapy Dog, as well as express how much we miss the people we’d normally visit.

The response had been tremendous, with over a hundred videos already uploaded, with more to come. We sent the word out to facility recreation program staff, and they’ve been loving the videos very much! They play them on a large screen in some cases, or help residents watch them on a tablet or computer.

Some of our teams have also sent regular newsletters that are printed and shared, while others send their video directly to the home they visit, in addition to uploading it on the YouTube channel. The diversity of the ‘virtual visits’ is part of the magic – you can take a sunny walk with Buddy and Charlie at the beach, watch Harvey unroll his yoga mat, see Bailey play with Piper, laugh while Ken battles Victoria for the ball, and be smitten by Finn as he shares his talent for fashion.

Discover your favourite Therapy Dog by visiting the YouTube Channel CLICK HERE

With almost 2000 therapy dog teams in Ontario, serving over 3100 facilities across the Province the Therapy Dog Program reaches out to thousands of people on a daily basis, bringing comfort, joy and companionship to those who are sick, lonely and residing in full-time care facilities. Clients reap the therapeutic benefits of the unconditional love of these four-legged friends.

St john girl with dog

Kids who need some distraction cab be taken away from their problems by playing with a therapy dog.

“St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs offer assistance in programs for youth at risk, and help build self-esteem for those in correctional facilities. They can provide relief and a welcomed distraction to those waiting for radiation or chemotherapy treatment, and very sick children being treated in hospitals, as well as to people who are displaced and frightened during an emergency evacuation.

“And there is no doubt that people find it easier to express their deepest emotions and put into words their hopes and fears while hugging a dog, so we find our teams working with the Military, Police and Fire Departments, social workers, psychologist and psychiatrists to help victims of critical incident stress, crime, tragedy and abuse, overcome their challenges.”

St John first aid 2 people

At almost every major public event – there is a St. John Ambulance on standby.

St. John Ambulance offers a free on-line First Aid Awareness course to all Ontarians.  In times of social distancing, accidents and injuries can still happen in the home or at the cottage. Right now, St. John Ambulance offers a free on-line course entitled: First Aid Awareness.

Their aim is to keep First Aid knowledge fresh in the minds of those who cannot take part in classroom training. Knowing what to do in an emergency can save someone’s life, and often, that life is someone you know and love.

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Burlington Green has a neat project for children - turning milk cartons into bird feeders

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

April 16th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At a time when parents are looking for ideas and small projects to keep their children active Burlington Green has put forward a neat idea – Put your Waste to Work.

They want to Up-Cycle cartons into bird feeders to help attract pollinators and encourage biodiversity right in your backyard.

BG milk carton projectBurlington Green will demonstrate how to create bird feeders from old juice or milk cartons on Facebook Live. This event is suitable for ages 8+.

When: Thursday, April 16th at 2:00 pm via Facebook Live. To watch, follow the event live on the Burlington Green Facebook page.

Please register for this event here.

Missed the event? Not to worry! You can view the video on our Facebook page following the event.

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Schools will not open on the 4th of May - 'year is not lost' adds the Premier

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

April 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Doug Ford - habd to head

Premier Doug Ford – sweating out a very tough situation.

During a media conference call hours ago, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that Ontario Schools would not be re-opening on May 4th and that the Minster of Education will be making an announcement on that matter in a few days.

The Premier added that the decision to not open the schools on the 4th “does not mean that the school year is lost”.

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The Easter egg hunt broke up a Sunday sleep-in: I'm getting to understand how my kids learn

graphic coping redBy Nicki St George

April 13, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Nicki St. George is part of a team of parents who are reporting each week on how they are coping with the COVID19 virus and having the children at home.

Monday, April 6
Every morning, for the sake of my sanity, I write up a schedule on the whiteboard easel that resides in our living space. It looks something like this:
9-9:30 – get dressed, brush teeth, make bed and pull curtains
9:30-10:30 – schoolwork
10:30-11:15 – outdoor time (If you call it recess then the kids will automatically go outside and don’t question it.)
11:15-12:15 – creative time (this might be just watching a drawing tutorial on YouTube and following along, lego, play doh, etc.) or baking or something science-y.
12:30-1 – lunch (we listen to the Kidsnuz podcast while we eat)
1-2 – Reading and Dreambox math
3-4 – a walk or bike ride (weather dependent)
4 – 6 – ipad time/social time and a snack
This may seem intense; however, it keeps the requests for devices down to a minimum and I really only have to plan one thing for the day (during the creative time). My afternoons often get pretty loose and I have resorted to ‘educational TV’ as another option on occasion. I highly recommend Brain Child on Netflix! Next week I will tweak the schedule and think of something new for us to do.

Nicki Apr 13 1 Cropped

Bea – all set for the next creation.

Tuesday, April 7
I find the work on google classroom from each of my kids’ teachers easy enough to follow. I am happy to have this work as it takes a lot of pressure having to come up with my own educational activities. Today, however, Bea is completely uninterested in doing the assigned work. Instead she has decided to create her own version of Mo Willem’s “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and since she is completely engrossed in this project, I decide to let the school stuff go. In the afternoon, I take some bean seeds that were left on the vine and we put them into glass jars with wet paper towel so that we can watch as they germinate. We also plant some cat grass seed in an old plastic container for Clifford (our cat).

Wednesday, April 8
Today I am feeling the need to get out of the house. After providing tech support for another mum friend who is trying to navigate google classroom, we go for a drive to one of Bea’s friends’ houses. I exchange some bean seeds for a printed-out workbook for Bea. We stand far apart on the lawn and Bea says hi to her friend and her sisters. Leo asks if we can visit his friends. So, we drive around some more and find two sets of friends playing out on their front lawns. We try maintaining the required social distance from our friends, but this is sometimes challenging as the younger siblings ignore the 2-meter rule. We keep these visits short, but it is nice to see some friendly faces. Is this against the rules? On the way home, I pull into the empty parking lot at Mapleview Mall. Bea sits on my lap and steers the car around the lampposts. Leo protests in the back seat – he is a rule follower, unlike his mother.

Thursday, April 9
We do our weekly drive up to my parents’ farm in Campbellville. I am grateful for the large 45-acre section, with trails maintained by my dad, which allows for us to have long, isolated nature walks. Bea wants to hold Nana’s hand, but we keep our distance. This week my mum has given the kids a checklist of things to find. Everything is changing week by week. This week we spot a patch of yellow daffodils. I pick some to take home and this is enough to brighten up my day.

Nicki Apr 13 cropped

Leo – did he get soaked?

Friday, April 10
A teacher friend of mine posts something on Facebook that makes me realize that I am not in fact homeschooling my kids. I am not creating the content or lessons myself; I am simply administering the work and making sure that they are completing their assignments. I learn a lot about my kids and their learning styles this week. I see how easily distracted my son becomes whenever I start working with Bea. I now understand why so much of his work comes home incomplete. I also notice that Leo has excellent manners and he thanks his teacher for each assignment. Bea learns her 3D shapes this week and, in the evening, she pretends to be the teacher and teaches us all about the shapes.

Saturday, April 11
Lows for the week: Very little exercise done; my husband working so hard to meet a deadline and only emerges to read Bea a bedtime story most days; my first trip to the grocery store since the full impact of social distancing has taken effect.

Highs for the week: Leo requesting new favourite songs from the COVID-19 Spotify playlist, such as Toxic and Don’t Stand So Close to Me (a welcome departure from his usual Weird Al songs); making decoupage Easter eggs for our window with the kids, using our new firepit to make s’mores (before the new bylaw against open fires comes into effect).

Sunday, April 12
8pm (the night before): Bea writes a note to the Easter Bunny asking them to use hand sanitizer before entering our house.

4am: Bea comes into the bed and asks if she can begin the Easter egg hunt.

5am: I order Bea to go into her room and shut the door and not to emerge until it reads 6am on her fitbit watch.

5:10am: Bea calls from her bedroom, “there’s a mouse in my room.” This is not unusual for our house. I call back, “is it alive or dead?” It is alive…barely. Probably Clifford’s handiwork. A typical male, he never finishes the job he starts.

graphic coping green5:15am: Bea enters my room with the mouse in a box and tells us that it is her new pet. Dan quickly ushers her outside and gets rid of her new pet.

9am: Dan and I wake up having missed the excitement of the Easter egg hunt (for the second year in a row). Bea has eaten her body weight in chocolate and will later get herself a bowl from the kitchen to carry around with her from room to room in case she needs to throw up.
9:05am: I make us coffees (with Baileys) and scrounge around the house for the unfound eggs.

Related news stories:

The idea

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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COVID results for the Region of Halton - Burlington numbers are re-assuring

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Data – data and more data.

Getting a grip on what is actually happening in Burlington and how we compare to those next door to us – is now possible. The Region released a report earlier today setting out where things stood as of April 8th.

It’s a sobering report but Burlington is going Ok – much better than the province overall.

There were 140 COVID-19 cases reported to Halton Region Public Health since the last update (125 confirmed + 15 probable)

There were 264 COVID-19 cases reported to Halton Region Public Health to date (249 confirmed + 15 probable)

report date

Figure 1: COVID-19 cases, by reported date, Halton Region, Mar. 1-Apr. 8, 2020: shows the 264 COVID-19 cases that had been reported to Halton Region Public Health by end of the day on April 8. All cases have been graphed according to the date they were reported, which is often several days after the onset of symptoms. Among the cases in this figure, 140 were reported since the last update (meaning they were reported between April 2 and April 8, 2020).

Individuals who are lab-confirmed cases are shown in green. Individuals who are probable cases are shown in orange. Probable cases are epi-linked cases, which means they are presumed to have COVID-19 because they are symptomatic close contacts of cases or returning travelers who have COVID-19 symptoms.

Case demographics

bu municipality

COVID-19 cases, by municipality of residence, Halton Region, 2020. graphic shows that by end of the day on April 8, the greatest number of COVID-19 cases were among residents of Oakville (with 102 cases, or 39%). Please note that because Burlington and Oakville have larger populations, it is expected that they have more cases.

by exposure

Graphic shows that by end of the day on April 8, 106 of Halton Region’s COVID-19 cases (40%) had no known travel or contact history, and therefore were believed to have acquired the virus within Ontario, making them community cases. 68 of the cases (26%) had a history of travel that was believed to have been the source of their infection. 56 cases (21%) had contact with a confirmed case that was believed to be the source of infection. Information on exposure source was pending for 34 cases (13%).

Age specific

Chart shows that by end of the day on April 8, the most COVID-19 cases were among Halton residents aged 40-59 (with 113 cases, or 43%). 144 of the 264 cases (55%) were female. Please note age groups have shifted since the last report, to align with provincial reporting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gender

COVID-19 cases, by age, Halton Region, 2020

38 Halton cases of COVID-19 have ever been hospitalized to date

69 Halton cases of COVID-19 have recovered to date

4 Halton cases of COVID-19 have died to date

5 institutional outbreaks of COVID-19 reported to Halton Region Public Health since the last update

6 institutional outbreaks of COVID-19 reported to Halton Region Public Health to date

Among the six institutional outbreaks reported to date, four (67%) have been in retirement homes, while the remainder have occurred in long-term care homes. Five of the outbreaks were reported since the last update (meaning they were reported between April 2 and April 8, 2020). None of the outbreaks have yet been declared over.

Comparison to Ontario

5,759 total confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Ontario to date

Figure 5: Age-specific rates of COVID-19 (per 10,000 population), Halton Region and Ontario, 2020
Figure 5 shows age-specific rates of COVID-19 for Halton and Ontario. Rates take into account the population size of each age group to make it possible to compare between different areas. Halton’s age-specific rates are similar to the provincial rates, except for residents aged 80+.

Currently, Halton has a statistically significantly lower rate of COVID-19 cases for residents aged 80+ compared to Ontario, with 6.3 cases per 10,000 residents aged 80+ in Halton, compared to 10.9 cases per 10,000 residents aged 80+ in Ontario. and prisons.

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Raw cookie dough as a bed time treat; a 'quarantini' to celebrate the end of chemotherapy

graphic coping greenBy Nicki St George

April 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Nicki St George is the mother of two, Leo 11 and Bea 8. She is a teacher at a private school in Oakville and in the final stages of chemotherapy.  Nicki is part of a team of parents who write about their having the children at home experience

Saturday, March 28
It is a relief to have my husband back in the mix instead of being sequestered in his makeshift basement office. Bea does her dance class over Zoom. I am so impressed with how well the teacher has adapted to this new delivery method. Later, we organize a fashion show with two of my friends and their daughters over Houseparty.

I play music in the background and we all disappear to our rooms and emerge in our finery. I rock my mermaid sequin frock – any excuse to dig that beauty out! I read an article in the Atlantic about how pandemics are bad news for feminists – I reflect on the number of conversations I have had with my female friends about the current shortage of flour and yeast.

I have my first post-chemo alcoholic drink in four months. A quarantini.

Sunday, March 29
Since I have both yeast and flour, I decide to try making cinnamon buns. I keep promising the kids and then putting it off. They turn out okay. We go for a family bike ride after our weekly Houseparty get together with the grandparents and aunts and uncles. Bea masters getting herself started on the bike. This is a game changer!

Monday, March 30

Nicki task list Apr 6

What to watch for while we are on our travels.

I like Mondays. It is a great day to start fresh and set some good intentions and goals. This week our goal (that I set) is for me and the kids to get 10,000 steps every day. I make something called phyto broth which uses up all of the vegetable scraps that I’ve been saving for the last two weeks and creates a super vitamin packed broth. I take the kids to visit the grounds of my private school so that we can walk around the large lake-side property. We collect rocks by the shore and later spend time painting them. Leo likes his rocks too much to leave them anywhere for someone to find.

Tuesday, March 31

Eager to get our steps for the day and aware that Bea is not at her best (understatement) when walking around our neighbourhood, I devise a strategy to make it more fun. I give each kid a list of different items or animals to look for as we do our walk and take a tally. It is a roaring success until Leo gets fed up and crumbles his paper up. He is disappointed that Bea can count trucks as cars while he cannot include our local arena as a brick house. Most of the walk is spent with me encouraging the kids to keep going and to not give up. Leo is in a funk today. I give him some space and do my best to cheer him up. Neither of my kids have explicitly expressed unhappiness about the social distancing but I know it is taking its toll. Bea often uses the phrase, “when the virus is over…”

Golf course closed

The joke was supposed to be on my husband.

Wednesday, April 1st

The kids are eager to see Dan succumb to our April fool’s joke which consists of loading up the laundry hamper with all the weights in the house and then asking him to take it downstairs to the laundry room. I send him an image I created on a fake headline website which says that Doug Ford is closing all the golf courses until September (scary because this actually might happen).

Thursday, April 2nd

Nature walk Nicki Apr 6

Chickadees follow us and land on our hands even though we have no seeds to feed them.

We spend a lot of time outdoors today. My mood is much better when the sun is shining. I work hard clearing all the leaves out of the front garden. I find us a nature trail for our walk and chickadees follow us and land on our hands even though we have no seeds to feed them. I have been keeping off social media and the 24-hour news cycle lately. Instead we listen to Kidsnuz podcast and watch education TV shows during our downtime. I binge watch Friends in the evening. I find the banter on the show comforting.

Friday, April 3rd

Collis note Apr 6 Nicki

Why do I have to conform to this 5-day work week paradigm?

I am in a funk today. I will not get all my steps today and I don’t even care. I have no desire to plan anything. The past three weeks of programming every activity for our family has caught up to me. I wonder how long this period of self-isolation will last. All I want to do is drink coffee, watch TV and do my puzzle. I mean why do I have to conform to this 5-day work week paradigm?

Today is my rest day. I let the kids have as much screen time as they want. I fight off the feelings of guilt. So many people have it much worse than me. I really have nothing to complain about. Think about the people on the front line risking their lives to fight this virus. I try to convince myself this newfound misery is the side-effect of the new cancer drug I started taking this week and it to some degree, it probably is.

I have no energy for daily phone call to my mum. I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day, but I know that this is more than a single day funk and that Dan will have to take over as ‘camp leader’ tomorrow. I make raw cookie dough and eat it after the kids go to bed. More guilt.

Related news stories:

The idea

Week 1

Week 2

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City to hold a second Town Hall call-in on April 14th

eventsorange 100x100By Staff

April 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is going to host a second town hall – April 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. to provide updates about what the City is doing to protect the health and safety of our community and to address concerns from the public related to COVID-19.

The objective is to answer the questions the public has about the COVID-19 virus – the town hall has been extended to two hours and will take place between 7 and 9 p.m.

The two-hour town hall will be hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and provide the public with an opportunity to hear from a panel of leaders confirmed to date including:

Commisso stare

City Manager Tim Commisso didn’t have much to say first time around

• Members of City Council
• City Manager Tim Commisso and senior staff
• MP for Burlington, the Honourable Karina Gould
• MP for Oakville-North Burlington, Pam Damoff
• MPP for Burlington, Jane McKenna
• MPP for Oakville-North Burlington, Effie Triantafilopoulos
• President and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital, Eric Vandewall
• Fire Chief, Dave Lazenby

How to Participate
Residents who would like to participate in the town hall can do so in the following ways:

Register in advance: Burlington residential phone numbers will be randomly selected to be part of the telephone town hall. Residents who would like to be added to the telephone call list can email getinvolved@burlington.ca by the end of day April 13.

Please note: if you registered for the previous town hall (held on March 26), you are not required to register your phone number a second time.

Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-231-0276 at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14 to join the town hall. For those individuals calling in, please be advised more than one attempt may be required due to the high volume of traffic on the phone lines. If the first call does not connect, please hang up and dial the 1-800 number again.

Once the call begins, a moderator will provide participants with instructions for how to submit their questions to the leadership panel.

Any questions not answered within the two-hour call will be posted, with answers, to the City’s website at burlington.ca/townhall, along with an audio file and full transcript of the call.

The first Town Hall call-in – on March 26, 2020, drew a reported 4200 people.

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How to protect your private information online

News 100 blueBy Clair Nash

April 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

As our online life continues to grow so do the risks involved in managing so much of our lives through digital tools, it has become increasingly important to learn how to protect your private information online, at all times.

We have been continuously integrating digital into daily life, moving from emails to online banks, even medical appointments can now happen through the web, so what can you do to stay safe but still enjoy all these wonderful tools at your disposal.

Choose carefully
Know where you are going online, the kinds of websites you visit and the apps you download, having the right information to make choices is a pretty good starting point for safety.

So if you are planning on gaming online pick the right site with secured online casino payment, sites with plenty of reviews, don’t trust mass emails sent out to you, verify your bank’s address and avoid clicking on links sent by friends and family. Common sense is your first line of defense.

passwords

This is not a secure password system.

Passwords matter, a lot
This one is huge, and your second line of protection. Your passwords should be hard to guess, different for each account and they must never ever be shared.

How to pick a password? Avoid the common birthdays, home addresses and any easy hint, it is always better to go with random numbers, names, and places. Use a password manager to keep track of them all, change them regularly and stay ahead of the threat.

Update everything
Those pesky update reminder on your computer or your phone is there to do more than just annoy you, updating your device means more protection for your information.

Every new software development in operating systems helps to better security, so while it may be a little annoying to have to do it so often it is a small price to pay to stay safe. So next time you see that update notification come up just do it and save yourself some heartache.

Back up your information
Whether you use cloud storage or actual external drives backing up your data can help you stay safe in case of theft or when you lose a device somewhere.

Having your data copied somewhere means you can remotely deactivate devices even if you lose that information, protecting you and making it impossible for someone else to use your device. Literary saved data is safe data.

Don’t overshare!
One of the biggest problems for staying safe online right now is social media sharing, the more people know about you and your life the more exposed and vulnerable you are to identity theft and hacking.

So keep your sharing to the minimum, the internet does not need to know every move you make, the places you visit, the things you buy, friends you have and your mom’s birthday, for online purposes keeping quiet can keep you safer.

Smartphone use
The smartphone is by far the most used device right now, so they store within them incredible amounts of our information.

Intelligent, clean, conscious use of your smartphone makes your security a priority and saves you from unexpected threats, here are some other handy tips to keep your smartphone safe.

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The kids are back in school - just not in classrooms - it is going to be an interesting and revealing week for everyone

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Child getting off school bus

Students will not be on school buses for the next couple of months.

Classrooms won’t have students in them this morning – but there will be thousands of students sitting in front of computers communicating with teachers at the other end of an internet connection.

Every restaurant in town will be empty – except for those who have decided to offer a take-out service.

Just about all of them are not certain they will ever be able to open again.

The schools will, at some point, re-open.
The Gazette will report on the hospitality industry later in the week. The federal government loan program has been announced – it will take a few days for the hospitality people to get a clear sense as to what this will mean for them. A $40,000 loan doesn’t really go all that far.

Sagar behind screen

Kerry Sagar didn’t know that she would be teaching from a computer screen several months ago.

This morning Kerry Sager will begin her classroom session with the iStem students at Aldershot high school. Sager

Julia Hunt Gibbons is a Superintendent with the Halton District School Board. When the schools were closed by the province her work load increased as she, along with all the other Superintendents who had to reflect, refine, and plan roll outs of continuity of learning/distance learning.

Hunt Gibbons

Superintendent Julie Hunt Gibbons will be doing a lot more explaining and advising for the next few months – by telephone and online.

Hunt Gibbons won’t be doing any direct teaching to students, although she does spend a lot of time “answering their questions on the Board FAQ.”

Her primary role is “more of a supporter of teachers, a writer — along with Secondary Program Department members offering lesson suggestions, assessment and evaluation, IT on-boarding, problem-solving and Ministry/board messaging.”
What Superintendents really have to do will become much clearer in the next few days as both parents and students adjust to how an education is going to be delivered.
One of the ironies with how students are going to be taught now (electronically) is that this was one of the issues teachers were fighting the Ministry of education over. Teachers wanted limits on just how much education would be delivered electronically – now that is all they a have to work with.
The biggest job now for everyone is facilitating the sharing that has to take place between teachers across the system, largely through Google Hangouts these days.

graphic coping redThe Gazette has created a small team of parents who have children in elementary classes. They are as concerned as the teachers who have to make the best of what they have. We will report on what the parents have to say. You can follow their views and comments in the Coping series.

As for Kerry Sagar, she is organizing her day getting ready to teach.

Related news story

How parents are coping with having the kids at home.

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Easter is about more than chocolate and painted eggs - Palm Sunday ahead of us.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 4TH, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Easter isn’t about coloured eggs and the Easter Bunny.

Starts with Palm Sunday, then Good Friday, then Easter Sunday.

This Sunday we remember when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowds waved branches and laid down coats and shouted “Hosanna!”

palm sunday kids

Children in churches around the world will take part in a Palm Sunday procession.

In many churches there is a procession with the children walking into the Sanctuary waving palm tree leaves and singing hymns.

Covid-19 has put a serious crimp on church attendance. My church, Hamilton Mennonite, sent out a note saying they “need help to do a different kind of Palm Sunday processional, and anyone of any age can participate! Here are the steps:

Palm Sunday1) Print the attached palm branch colouring page (as many as your household needs)
2) Colour (or otherwise decorate) it
3) Take a Picture of your artwork (horizontal is best). Include you holding it, if you want, or add your name to it.
4) Email it here or to Alissa at hmcpastor@cogeco.net by Friday night (or 1st thing Saturday morning if you must!)

Watch for the Photo Processional this Sunday morning in worship!

I’ll go on line to see how my Pastor handles the procession.

Think about what that procession was all about; the trial that took place, the decision to crucify a man named Jesus – that part is all fact – well documented.

The balance of the story, the Risen Lord – on the third day he rose – is pure faith – you either believe it or you don’t.

Much of our core social philosophy and fundamental social beliefs comes out of a Christian perspective. We now have many who bring a Muslim perspective to the way lives are lived.”

With parents struggling to keep their children active and at least a little entertained painting hard boiled eggs seems like a good idea and the hunt for the treats that are part of the secular Easter will keep the kids happy for a couple of hours.

You might give some thought to telling them what the season is really all about.

It isn’t the Easter Bunny is it?

On Sunday 9:45 – Join live here:

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

 

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District school board expects the school year to start September 8th - between now and then all options are on the table

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

HDSB sign and benchSomeone seems to have forgotten to do a reality check.

The Halton District School Board today released the proposed school calendar for the 2020-2021 academic year.

At the March 25, 2020 Board meeting, trustees of the Halton District School Board approved the proposed calendar dates for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Final approval of the calendar by the Ministry of Education is anticipated later in Spring 2020.

Will there be an academic year? In the event that there is the calendar proposed is set out below.

School calendar 2020-2021The school year calendar is developed with input from the School Year Calendar Committee consisting of representatives from interested and affected groups, including parents/guardians. The 2020-2021 school year calendar is aligned with the Halton Catholic District School Board calendar, to consolidate resources on school bus transportation, which is shared between school boards.

The calendar outlines the Professional Activity days (PA) for staff when schools will be closed to students, as well as school breaks and holidays. The first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year is Tuesday, Sept. 8.

These dates will be provided to schools to be shared with students and parents/guardians, and they are also posted on the Board’s website at www.hdsb.ca (refer to the Calendar on the home page).

The date is April 1st – is this a prank?  Apparently not.

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Cheesecake on the doorstep; an obstinate at times daughter, a husband missing sports but I can take a long bath

graphic coping greenBy Nicki St George

April 1, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Gazette has put together a team of parents who are at home taking care of their children while the province goes through school closures and the shut down of everything other than essential services.

Ashley Worobec, Amber Rohol, and Nicki St. George will write regularly on how they are coping.  We invite parents to take part in this initiative by adding comments to each Coping with COVID19 & the kids article.

Saturday, March 21
My friend who runs the homeschooling FaceBook group posts a great idea – why bother keeping a tidy house when no one is coming over? I mull this over but decide that my brain cannot function without a clean space. Today is “Cleaning the House Day.” Everyone has their own job to do. I argue with my husband over the placement of the vacuum cleaner, so things are pretty much business as usual.
Everyone is getting each other’s nerves a bit. We go for a long family walk and we see some sidewalk art that cheers us up. Various Facebook mums groups are trying to coordinate rainbows and smiley faces to be put in windows. I take a long bath, something that I don’t always feel like I have time for, but now…

Sunday, March 22
Things left at my door: cheesecake from my neighbor, Kumon math book for Leo, USB cable for the monitor, no monitor yet, a gift from my friend in NZ. We watch the New Zealand news (where my husband and mother are from and where I lived for 10 years)– they are beginning lock down. Dan takes the kids out for a bit so that I can have some breathing room. There is a lot of asking questions today; Bea is whiny…can I have a treat? Can I have iPad? What’s for dinner? I finish my puzzle! I start a new puzzle.

Work plan week 2 St George

Keeping them focused and busy is going to be a challenge if this lasts more than a month.

Monday, March 23
Overall the day is okay. I write our schedule on chart paper (as has become the norm) and permit my kids the use of electronics at two points during the day – when I have two school meetings scheduled over Zoom. I marvel at anyone who is trying to work from home right now and watch their kids at the same time.
I decide to attempt some homeschooling with the kids and I try to figure out how to work with one, while keeping the other one busy. There is a reason why I chose to teach high school. This will get easier I tell myself. They start journals. They spend the rest of the day on devices. Bea chats with Maelle. This involves going through every face filter on Messenger. Bea calls out instructions, “choose the scariest…funniest…” A revelation comes when she realizes that her dolls’ faces register as faces in the camera. This goes on for a long time. I am happy that she has a friend to play with.

Tuesday, March 24
Today the first thing on our list is “get dressed and brush teeth.” Bea, in typical six-year-old fashion, refuses to get dressed. I get frustrated. We go for a walk. I try to encourage Bea to learn the names of some birds and she refuses. She stops every 5 meters and complains that I am walking too fast. Molasses would beat me in a race. I get more frustrated. We return home and both kids pick up their workbooks without complaining and quietly start to work. This was the next thing on our list. I pat myself on the back and my mood lifts. I make us lunch. Then it is time for a break. I have had to dig out my husband’s old iPhone so that both kids can chat with their friends at the same time, while leaving me in peace. I do some reading for my Masters degree that I’m working towards. I check in on friends, scroll through social media feeds, and do anything possible to avoid actually doing any reading. Next up is fairy garden making. Something that Bea has been so excited about. It is also convenient since Leo lost another tooth on our walk earlier. The kids complete their journals for the day. I give them sentence starters. Under “A challenge I faced was…” they each write the other’s name. I conquer.

Coping pictures St George

The whole tribe on line to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, March 25
Today my parents celebrate 50 years of marriage. I send out a request to my brother, parents and 82-year-old aunt in NZ to download the Houseparty app so that we can have a toast together. The process of getting my dad and aunt to go through the motions of downloading the app and signing in nearly finishes me. But we make it work and we have a nice chat together!

Thursday, March 26
I have to go to the hospital for an appointment with my oncologist and my Herceptin treatment. My dad has given me an N95 mask, which I wear. There is only one entrance into the hospital. They ask the usual questions, take my temperature and tell me my mask is better than theirs so I should just keep that one on. Things have changed dramatically in the chemo suite since my last visit two weeks ago. The nurses are all wearing masks and while I am here, they are told to move their workspaces so they are three meters apart and they are given new masks with eye protectors attached. I am still confused over the don’t wear a mask/wear a mask debate. My oncologist tells me that I should hold off on going back to work right away and we decide that I will return in May. While I’m at the hospital I leave instructions for the children. For one hour they can do the following: go in the backyard, play a game together, clean Bea’s room (as if). Then for the second hour they may have screen time. I come home to find that Leo has been helping Bea with some schoolwork. My heart swells.

Friday, March 27

The sands on Beachway do shift.

The Beachway is a quiet part of the city where keeping that two metre space isn’t all that difficult.

My family is settling nicely into the swing of self-isolation. However, I am acutely aware of my privilege in this situation. Our jobs are secure, we live in a nice neighbourhood that is safe to walk around and where neighbours look out for one another, I am on sick leave which means that I have time to spend with the kids and they are not glued to screens for 7 hours a day, and my kids are 6 and 8 – old enough to be somewhat independent and young enough to still be enthusiastic about scavenger hunts, arts and crafts and my lame attempts at doing science experiments.

Today I take the kids for a walk along the Burlington beach strip. In the afternoon, we abandon our baking project in favour of spending time outside in the sun. I make us spaghetti for dinner, a family favourite. Leo digs out his portable record player and spins records while keeping me company. Today was a good day.

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Classes start again - lessons will be delivered electronically.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The students will be back in school – no later than next week.

Directors of Education from across the province have been in conference calls with the Ministry of Education – classes are to resume.

The Boards are waiting for the last bit of documentation from the province – “We want to be sure we are fully aligned with the province” said Miller.

It will be all electronic and there will be bumps during the first week or so.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board Director of Education

Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board Director of Education met with all his principals today and will begin meeting with the teachers tomorrow.

And yes they have followed the rules – they know the game.

Much of the communication is being done electronically. Miller does short videos and sends them out to the teachers.

Parents will be getting letters and later in the week Miller will go before the camera again and will talk to the students electronically.

HS student at computer

For most high school students the transition to electronic learning will not be that difficult. There will be exceptions

Secondary students will be doing regular classes – they just won’t be in the room with the teacher. The technology is  in place and, according to Miller, a lot of teachers are biting at the bit to get back to teaching. Will attendance be taken?   probably at the high school level.
It will be a little different at the elementary level – the focus will be on literacy and numbers.

Will parents be in the classroom? They can if they want.

Everyone is going to have to be flexible and patient.

child behind paper

Elementary students will be challenged – parents will have to be in the room – but with creative teachers at the other end of the internet connection it can work,

Miller said that the unions are on side – “everyone realizes this is a different time and a lot of rules are going to get bent. He added that at the same time there are going to be some interesting realizations.

Education is on a new course – the board wants it to work and the parents don’t want the length of time their children are out of the classroom to last much longer.

It will be interesting to see how this works out.

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