There is now a bylaw that asks you to wear a face mask - don't get silly and say the science doesn't support the benefits of a face mask - just wear the thing.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We now have two bylaws related to the wearing of face masks.

The city bylaw that was passed on Monday and the Regional by law that was passed yesterday.

If we got it right – Burlington’s bylaw complies with the Region so there is no conflict.

Burlington has some additional features in its bylaw – the spending of $10,000 on masks for people are not able to buy masks.

There are some basics in both bylaws that are essentially the same.

There are rules the public is being asked to follow.  They are

WHERE THE BYLAW APPLIES INDOORS:

CITY HALL Cobalt

Mask needed to enter City Hall

premises or any portion thereof which are used as a place of business for the sale or offering for sale of goods or services, and includes a mall or similar structure which contains multiple places of business;

churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places of worship;

City indoor facilities open to the public, community centres including indoor recreational facilities and City Hall;

libraries, art galleries, performing arts centre, museums, aquariums, zoos and other similar facilities;

community service agencies providing services to the public;

banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and other event spaces;

premises utilized as an open house, presentation centre, or other facility for real estate purposes;

private transportation for hire, including taxis, limousines and rideshare services;

public transportation;

common areas of hotels, motels and other short-term rentals, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms or other common use facilities; and

    concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos, and other entertainment facilities.

WHERE IT DOESN’T APPLY:

Court House POA

You do not need to wear a mask in the Court House.

schools, post-secondary institutions, and child care facilities and indoor/outdoor day camps;

premises or any portion thereof (including City indoor facilities and community centres) used for City run recreational programs that require registration;

court facilities;

professional offices where clients receive purchased services (such as lawyer or accountant office) that are not open to members of the public except by appointment;

indoor areas of a building accessible to only employees;

hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals.

EXEMPTIONS:

    the person is under three years of age chronologically;

    the person is under three years of age developmentally and they refuse to wear

    a Mask or Face Covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;

    the person has an underlying medical condition where wearing a Mask or Face Covering would inhibit the person’s ability to breathe in any way;

    the person may experience a negative impact to their emotional well-being or mental health;

    the person has a developmental disability which inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering;

    the person has a disability whereby the wearing of a Mask or Face Covering would limit their ability to reasonably communicate with others or otherwise present a hardship for a person or persons assisting the individual;

    the person is unable to place or remove a Mask or Face Covering without assistance; or,

    employees and agents of the person responsible for the Establishment within an area designated for them and not for public access, or within or behind a physical barrier.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE:

There is NO REQUIREMENT of proof of exemptions

This is the point at which we learn how civilized a society we are.  There is a 73 year old man who lived in Minden who was shot dead by police over the issue of his not wanting to wear a mask. He wasn’t shot because he wouldn’t wear a mask – he was shot dead because a situation got out of control.

You don’t to wear a mask and you don’t have to prove that you are exempt.  What our political leadership is asking – is that you wear a face mask to keep the other people safe – when they wear their mask you too will be safer.

There are those out there will argue that there is no science behind the mask.  That’s debatable – staying alive and safe is not something we want to debate – or do we?

Let us not fall into the disaster south of us.

We learned to wear seat belts.

We learned that we could no smoke inside public places.

We can learn to wear a face mask.

 

 

 

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School board chair Andrea Grebenc puts forward a barn burner of a motion.

News 100 redBy Andrea Grebenc

July 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Chair of the Halton District School Board Andrea Grebenc moved a motion that was passed unanimously by the trustees – it was a barn burner of a speech.

Whereas Trustees are mandated by the Education Act to maintain focus on student achievement and well-being, to assist the board in delivering effective and appropriate education programs to its pupils and to bring concerns of parents, students and supporters of the board to the attention of the board;

And whereas the people of Halton enter into a social contract with the government to educate and act as childcare providers through paying taxes;

ndrea Grebenc July 15

HDSB Chair Andrea Grebenc immediately after read out her strong motion.

And whereas current Ministry funding for the hybrid/adaptive 15-student model does not allow for daily, in-person student attendance;

And whereas the hybrid model forces working parents to seek alternative childcare for younger children;

And whereas childcare for potentially 36,000 Halton District School Board(HDSB) Kindergarten to grade 6 students does not currently exist in Halton Region;

And whereas the hybrid model exposes younger students that require childcare during working hours to potentially unsafe and/or unsupervised environments;

And whereas unregulated, temporary childcare situations do not require inspection to show evidence of adherence to Public Health protocols that limit the spread of the coronavirus;

And whereas temporary childcare situations may mix students from various school classes, schools and boards, exponentially exposing the contained classroom “bubble” of students and staff and risking harder-to-trace-and-contain outbreaks in various classes, schools and across boards;

And whereas childcare costs money, potentially placing families into critical financial situations that may affect student achievement and well-being;

And whereas the hybrid model increases equity gaps, felt more profoundly by racialized, indigenous, and socioeconomically disadvantaged families, as well as students with special needs;

Grebenc - expressive hands

The Gazette always saw Andrea Grebenc as a woman with potential but timid – not prepared to make challenging statements. That changed on Wednesday

And whereas the hybrid model may increase mental health issues and system stress by compressing the time to meet curriculum expectations by half;

And whereas internationally respected children’s hospitals have indicated that full-time attendance is what is best for children;

And whereas model constraints and funding does not allow for truly innovative educational solutions to come forward;

And whereas recent messaging from the provincial government regarding who will decide which of the three models will be implemented in September 2020 has been unclear;

Be it resolved that the Chair write a letter on behalf of the Board of Trustees, copying all Ontario Boards, OPSBA and local MPPs, indicating their concerns with the current part-time hybrid/adaptive model as outlined by the Ministry of Education, requesting the hybrid/adaptive model, under its current funding level, be withdrawn as an option for September 2020 for students in Kindergarten to grade six, requesting appropriate funding for the 15-student model as a daily attendance model or adjusting the model cohort parameters, and

Be it resolved that the Chair ask the Minister of Education for clarification about who the decision maker is for the September school year start up.

In comments made after the motion was tabled Grebenc said that “there are in excess of 36,000 elementary students within the Halton Board – where are those children going to be cared for should they have to distant learn.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Grebenc conferring with HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller

“What will we get – quickly formed day care centre’s that are not regulated, not inspected with other children coming from who knows where.  The bubbles that most families created to ensure their kids were safe would not be feasible.”

In the years we have watched Grebenc slowly develop a platform she was passionate about. wondering if we would every see one.  It was on display at the school board on Wednesday.

Now Andrea Grebenc, try to move beyond a polite letter.

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Public school board faces some very serious challenges - waiting for the province to give directions

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Stuart Miller H&S tight look

Director of Education Stewart Miller

The Halton District School Board trustees were given a glimpse of what Director of Education Stewart Miller is up against with the provincial government and what school will look like come September.

It was not a pretty picture.

There were three scenarios with several permutations within each scenario.

1: Continue with the distance learning that was in place from March through to June.
That experience wasn’t very satisfactory for the students, the parents and the teachers.
Few of the teachers had any experience with distance teaching; there was precious little available in the way of educational tools in the beginning.
Things did get better by the end of June but no one was looking forward to doing this again.

2: Return to full time classroom teaching using the social distancing rules which would have about 15 students in each classroom.
The problem there is – the Board doesn’t have the space needed – they would need double the space – which they don’t have. Renting outside space was a possible option but Miller doesn’t believe this will work.
Not enough space for the new classroom size model and not enough teachers. Miller wasn’t sure how many teachers he would need – something very close – maybe a bit above 1000 additional teachers – which may not exist. Every school board would be doing the same scramble for space and teachers.

3: The third option has been labelled “adaptive” learning which would get different treatment at the different levels – secondary being handled one way and elementary another.
Some of the ideas being floated are a situation where students attend for five days in a classroom and then five days at home where distance learning would come into play.

Blackwell July 15 2

Superintendent Terri Blackwell explaining what she thinks will happen with secondary students when school starts in September.

Three Superintendents have been tasked with coming up with a proposal that they will have to take to the Ministry of Education and defend what they propose.

That meeting is scheduled for August, The Ministry will listen and then get back to the school board with directions.

Superintendent Terri Blackwell is doing the deep think for the secondary level while Scott Podebarac does that work for the elementary level.

Superintendent Julia Hunt Gibbons does the number crunching – trying to find a way to make the available space fit the number of students.

The three will be reporting back to the trustees on July 22nd with what they feel they should take to Queen’s Park.

Premier Doug Ford has been his usual adamant self when he says he wants every student in a classroom come September.

Making that happen is the challenge
The HDSB has not surveyed the parents – the three superintendents think it is a little too early for that. They don’t know what they are going to propose yet- little point in asking for an opinion without giving the parents the options.

There are additional concerns. Miller reported that 20% of the teachers are not certain that they want to return to working in a classroom.

The other concern is that some parents do not want to send their children to a classroom where they will mingle with other students that are not part of their bubble.

Add to that the problem with getting the kids to school. The number of students on a bus will be lower due to social distancing and parents fear that the virus would well be spread on the school bus with kids from a number of locations being stuck on a school bus.

The problems the school board administration faces are massive – and they aren’t going to get any easier.

The administration meet frequently with the many unions that are part of the educational system. Scott Podrebarac said the conversations are cordial.

ndrea Grebenc July 15

HDSB Trustee Chair Andrea Grebenc

Chair of the trustees Andre Grebenc said that is not what she is hearing.

Hundreds of teachers have taken short courses that focus on teaching from a distance and working with students and parents who have to cope with a much different educational environment their children are now part of.

Lurking in the background behind all this is the threat of a second wave – that many of those in the science community suggest is inevitable.

If there is a second wave in the fall (120 to 150 days away) and we are back into a lock down – no one is saying public what the next step is –
Hopefully there are people in a room somewhere that are doing some hard thinking.

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Get some answers on the Thursday Telephone Town Hall on school opening in September

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 13th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Premier is expected to announce today that he will move to Stage 3 and open things up in some parts of the province. Halton is expected to be part of what gets opened wider – people may be able to return to work and the commercial world might be able to open up more of their space.

Telephone-town-hall-logo-2-690x386While returning to work is important to getting our economy working closer to its potential – the issue for many is – what happens in September when the kids are normally returning to school.

Will the schools be open?

For how long each day?

What measures are being taken to ensure that those students are as safe as they can be?

There is a lot that is unknown about the COVID17 virus and the way it impacts younger people.

Stuart Miller

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller.

Thursday evening the Mayor is hold another of her Telephone Town Halls – this time the Halton District School Board Director of Education will be on the line.

This will be the first opportunity for parents to put questions to someone who can tell you as much as anyone about how schools will be operated come September.

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

1. 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 the day on July 14.
Please note: if you registered for any of the previous town halls (held on March 26, April 14 or June 4), you are not required to register your phone number a second time. To remove a name from the call list, email getinvolved@burlington.ca by the end of the day on July 14.

2. Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-410-5909 just before 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 16 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.

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Now that we are really politically correct do we take the Joseph Brant name off the hospital and never erect a statute in his name?

opinionred 100x100By Joseph A Gaetan

July 10th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir John A MacDonald, Henry Dundas-1st Viscount, Peter Russell, Hector Louis Langevin, Joseph Brant and Samuel Hatt, all have something in common, all were honoured in some way, some with statues, some by having cities, museums, hospitals, streets, or schools named after them.

2_Joseph_Brant_Painting_George_Romney-1200x500

Joseph Brant portrait by George Romney

What these people, all men, also have in common is their names are being removed from their statues, either defaced or torn down. The reason, something in their past is so abhorrent today that ancestors of the recipients of their misdeeds feel the mere presence of them and their acts in history are now toxic beyond repair or forgiveness. As decades and centuries passed, the memory of their names lived on, while their deeds – both good and bad – were mostly forgotten today and they are being erased from history.

Years ago, I visited the Arizona Memorial and had no idea what to expect. Today, I still consider it amongst the most moving experiences in my life and no words can do justice to the experience and deep feelings that arose while standing over the Arizona and the 1102 sailors and marines entombed beneath.

auschwitz

Women in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

The Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial also stands today as a reminder of the atrocities that occurred between 1940 and 1945. About 1.1 million innocent men, women and children were gassed and then cremated at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The death toll from Auschwitz alone includes 960,000 Jews (865,000 of whom were gassed on arrival), 74,000 non-Jewish Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and up to 15,000 other Europeans. Hitlers “Final Solution” resulted in millions more being exterminated in his death camps, while many politicians across the world ignored what was happening.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, a local hero, Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) was born in 1742, on the banks of the Ohio River. Brant was a Mohawk Indian chief who served as a spokesman for his people, as a Christian missionary, and a British military officer during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) and the American Revolution (1775-1783). He was an influential military captain and a powerful diplomat who encouraged Indigenous tribes to share his political loyalties. During the American Revolution, “Brant fought throughout the war with an Indigenous-Loyalist band”, he also, “worked to form the Western Confederacy, a united group of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and western Indigenous peoples, created to block American expansion westward”.

Brant was always pretty good at getting grants from the British, but this Council probably isn’t going to hear his argument.

Joseph Brant often wore colourful costume, especially when he was at the Royal Courts in England.

From 1776 to his death in 1807, “Brant fought in vain with the British and Upper Canada governments for the rights of his people to obtain title to the lands of the Grand River Valley”. The African American Registry also claims “[the] slaves he captured during the American Revolution built the Brant House at Burlington Beach and a second home near Brantford. In all, Brant owned about forty African slaves”.
A 2009 Star article and a 2017 Spec article both identify Brant as a slave owner. In his article, Andrew Dreschel posed the question, “Is slave owner Joseph Brant next?” His article also asks, “why stop there if we’re reassessing the past by today’s ethical standards?”. Dreschel also queries whether other effigies are being torn down, “to help expunge the sins of the past”? According to Dreschel, “one can find a Joseph Brant statue in the city of Brantford, and a life sized one in Ottawa, part of the Valiants Memorial commemorating important Canadian military figures”.

Dreschel goes on to state, “Brant was not the only slave owner in early Upper Canada … Historian Alan Taylor estimates the colony had about 300 slaves at that time, mostly taken from rebel settlements during the American Revolution by Indians and loyalist Raiders”, adding, “we would certainly need to change the names of countless schools including Earl Kitchener Elementary School in West Hamilton named after [the] Imperial British general whose ruthlessness included using concentration camps during the Boer War in South Africa”.

An architects rendering of the new entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital whch will now face the lake. The entrance will be off LAkeshore Road with the new parking lot just to the west of the hospital.

A rendering of the entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital.  Do we take the Brant off the building?

 

In addition to the above the City of Burlington is home to a street named Brant, the Joseph Brant Museum, and the Joseph Brant Hospital.

In an article entitled, “The life of Sophia Pooley and the Queen’s Bush Settlement”, Carly Holmstead, Kayla Hefford, and Jennifer Williams write, “At the age of five, Sophia and her sister were taken to Niagara Falls, where they were sold to Mohawk chieftain Joseph Brant”. After several years on the reserve, Brant sold Sophia to Samuel Hatt: “at twelve years old, I was sold by Brant to an Englishman in Ancaster, for one hundred dollars, – his name was Samuel Hatt, and I lived with him seven year”. To add insult to injury the article also states, “During the time Sophia was enslaved by Samuel Hatt, legislations had passed marking the end of slavery; unbeknownst to Sophia, she continued to live under the confines of slavery”.

Brant Museum transformed

The name can’t be taken off the museum – or could it be called a home from a particular period of time?

Sadly, slavery is alive, well and flourishing. According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, approximately 45.8 million people worldwide are in some form of modern slavery. About 17 percent of the total number of people in modern slavery live where there is limited, if any, government action. These countries are characterised by government complicity (North Korea and Eritrea), low levels of political will (Iran), high levels of corruption (Equatorial Guinea), or widespread conflict (Libya). Few victims are being identified and there are even fewer prosecutions. According to the GSI, Canada is amongst the 12 G20 countries not taking action to stop the importation of goods and services that are at risk from being produced by forced labour.

Golda Meir

Golda Meir: she was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969.

Golda Meir once said, “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present”. The Arizona Memorial, Auschwitz and locally Joe Brant are still here to remind us and the world of the “day of infamy”, the “Holocaust”, and of a Mohawk Indian chief who served not only as a spokesman for his people but also as a Christian missionary and a British military officer during two major 18th century conflicts. Applying the “cancel culture” to Joe Brant’s honours would serve little while leaving the remnants of his legacy intact could serve as a model for recollection and reconciliation.

Joseph A Gaetan B.G.S, the author, was born during a time when Italo-Canadians were not treated kindly by some citizens and the government of Canada.

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An amazing graphic looks at a disease that has brought the world to a halt - and we don't yet know how to beat it.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is some absolutely fascinating graphic material on the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes on the Scientific American web site.

SA Fig First then numbered.

Those orange spikes are what penetrate our skin and replicate what you see on the screen. Science at its best

If this is what e-learning is about – the high school students have an impressive educational opportunity ahead of them.

Very few science teachers could add much to this material. Most of them would be learning it for the first time.

While what we are experiencing is lock downs and rules that make life awkward and limited the world is seeing some of the most dramatic, fascinating and world changing advances in science.

This stuff makes the landing on the moon almost peanuts.

It is part of a race against a disease that we don’t yet fully understand that could mean the end of western civilization as we know it.

Economies are being destroyed as we watch a once great democracy stumble with no assurance that it is going to be able to get back up on its feet.

Scientists have generated an incredible amount of fine-grained knowledge in a surprisingly short time.

SA Fig 1 part of 3

Parts of the graphic are in 3D

In the graphics that follow, Scientific American presents detailed explanations, current as of mid-June, into how SARS-CoV-2 sneaks inside human cells, makes copies of itself and bursts out to infiltrate many more cells, widening infection.

We show how the immune system would normally attempt to neutralize virus particles and how CoV-2 can block that effort. We explain some of the virus’s surprising abilities, such as its capacity to proofread new virus copies as they are being made to prevent mutations that could destroy them.

SA Fig 2 (part 0f 3 expanded)

You can interact with the graphic – turning the image on its side or zooming in. There are numbers that you can click on for additional information.

And we show how drugs and vaccines might still be able to overcome the intruders. As virologists learn more, we will update these graphics on our Web site (www.scientificamerican.com).

A SARS-CoV-2 virus particle wafting into a person’s nose or mouth is about 100 nanometers in diameter–visible only with an electron microscope. It is a near sphere of protein (cross section shown) inside a fatty membrane that protects a twisting strand of RNA–a molecule that holds the virus’s genetic code.

SA Fig 4

The graphics are brilliant – parts are shown in 3D giving you an amazing understanding of a disease that is hammering people around the world. More than 10 million infected. Millions have died.

Proteins called “S” form spikes that extend from the surface and grab onto a human cell, hundreds of times larger, so the particle, or virion, can slip inside; the crown, or corona, appearance gives the virus its name. Structural proteins–N, M and E–move inside the cell, where they help new virions form.

A SARS-CoV-2 particle enters a person’s nose or mouth and floats in the airway until it brushes against a lung cell that has an ACE2 receptor on the surface. The virus binds to that cell, slips inside and uses the cell’s machinery to help make copies of itself. They break out, leaving the cell for dead, and penetrate other cells.

You can play with the interactive graphic – zoom in and see what the different parts of the virus are about.
Bookmark this link – and if there are science students in the house – make sure they are at least aware of this.
Distribute it widely.

SA figure 5

Graphic shows how the virus get into a lung. The material has a time line that sets out how long it takes the virus to penetrate (minutes) and how long it takes to replicates 10 hours.

A link to the graphics is HERE

 

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Congratulations - you are now Canadian citizens

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Canada Day is a good time to think about Citizenship.

Those of us born in Canada take it for granted and for the most part we are grateful that we live in this country.

For many – they choose to become Canadian citizens.

When that choice is made these people take part in a Citizenship Ceremony that is presided over by a Citizenship Court Judge.

The federal government often calls upon members of the Order of Canada to take on the task for what is a rather short ceremony that has one sentence that matters: Congratulations, you are now Canadian citizens.

Ron Foxcroft was made a member of the Order of Canada two years ago.

He presided over his first Citizenship Court in Hamilton recently.

Judge Ronnie cropped

Fifty nine people became citizens of Canad in a ceremony earlier this year when Citizenship Judge Ron Foxcroft presided.

It is an emotional moment for all the participants.  Foxcroft said he was a “little nervous” but once he got into the procedure he said he was “fine”.

Working from a document provided by the federal government Foxcroft said:

“In a few minutes you will be sworn in as Canadian Citizens.  You will swear or affirm your Oath to the Queen, which means you are swearing allegiance to Canada in her name and in her person.

“This is a proud moment for all of you.  It is a memory you and your family will always cherish.”

Foxcroft then turns to the land acknowledgement that is now a part of almost every political event that takes place.

“I would like to acknowledge that this citizenship ceremony is taking place on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit and the the Haudenosaunee Nations.

“It is essential that all Canadians move forward together on the road to reconciliation, so that we can leave a proper legacy for future generations.

“Candidates for citizenship, I am happy that you have chosen to become citizens of this wonderful country, and it is a privilege for me to be here with you today.  You are following in the footsteps of generations of great Canadians before you.

“Our first Prime, Sir John  A. MacDonald, came here as an immigrant from Scotland with his family when he was five years old. They settled in Loyalist country beside Lake Ontario.  He worked hard all his life and earned the everlasting gratitude of the Canadian people.

“My personal story is one of great gratitude to Canada for all that my country has given me.  My family enjoyed all that this country has to offer.  I was educated in Ontario, became a National Basketball Association referee, bought a trucking company and formed a business that exports to more than 100 countries around the world.

“I was honoured to be made the Honorary Colonel of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, a renowned Armed Forces unit that fought in Europe in both world wars.  That Regiment is based here in Hamilton.

Citizen group - Foxcroft

Four of Canada’s newest citizens

“Many of you have travelled far and some have struggled to make a new home in Canada. Your decision meant adapting to a new culture, a new climate, and for most of you a new language.

“You are joining the Canadian story, one that you are now quite familiar with after studying Discover Canada and passing your citizenship test.

“You have learned about Canadian symbols like the Crown, the flag, the coat of arms and our motto, From “Sea to Sea”.

getting a citizenship certificate

The presentation of a Citizenship certificate

“Being a Canadian citizen means a lot more than simply having a piece of paper. It means sharing a common set of Canadian values; having rights and responsibilities, such as being a full member of the Canadian family and the responsibility to obey Canadian laws.

“As a Canadian citizen, you live in a democratic country where individual rights and freedoms are respected.

“Thousands of brave Canadians have fought and died foe these rights and freedoms. The commitment to Canada of our men and women in uniform should never be forgotten or go unrecognized.  We thank them.

“As a Canadian you have the right to vote and to run as a candidate in municipal, provincial and federal elections.  It is your responsibility to find out about the issues in each election, to make your choice and to cast your vote.

“You are free to live and work in any province or territory.  Take responsibility for yourself and your family.  Get involved in our community by becoming a volunteer.  These are responsibilities and privileges we all share and must act upon.

“The future of Canada, our freedom, our democracy, our peaceful society, equality under the law and our prosperity, depends on all of us together.

“You area about to take the Oath of Citizenship.  As you pronounce the words of the oath, take then to heart; they are your commitment to do your best for Canada.

“Please repeat after me:

I swear

That I will be faithful

And bear true allegiance

To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second

Queen of Canada

Her Heirs and Successors

And that I will faithfully observe

The laws of Canada

And fulfill my duties

As a Canadian citizen

At this point Ron Foxcroft would have stood tall, beamed a great big smile upon the 59 people in the room and said:

“Congratulations, you are now Canadian citizens.”

And then lead them in the singing O Canada

 

 

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School is out - it wasn't in for a good part of the school year.

graphic-coping-red-2By Nicki St George

June 26th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Nicki St George was one of two parents who wrote regularly during those months that children were out of school and parents learned just what it is that a teacher does – they were now struggling to get it right. St George, who is a teacher, a recovering cancer patient and a mother working on an MEd. She sums up what the pandemic experience has been for her and her two children and a husband who finally had a glimpse into what spending three consecutive months with the kids all day long is like.

I took a hiatus from writing about my COVID life for two reasons. Firstly, the doldrums were setting in and I felt like I had very little new to share. But mainly, it took me a while to absorb and process the horrors occurring in the US, and the world around race relations. I was busy, minding my own business and considering my feelings about school being cancelled for the rest of the year when the news of George Floyd and Christian Cooper broke, and the riots started. I did not feel, as a middle-aged, middle-class, white, suburban mum (no, I am not a KAREN!), that I should take up any space on social media with trivial complaints about watching a 6-year old type a sentence on the keypad or the frustrations of having to homeschool for the remainder of the school year.

Dan and Nicki - masksI still feel uncomfortable about sharing how I personally addressed the issues of anti-racism with my family, mostly because I am embarrassed that I did so little to engage in this work before, but also because talking about the things I have done to address these issues feels like I am patting myself on the back. This self-gratitude, in my opinion, can become a fine line between bragging vs publicly sharing my thoughts and actions with others so as it can provide some perspective. With that said, here are the things that I am doing to help put a stop to systemic racism:

• engaging in conversations about race and how racism exists in Canada (and Burlington) at every opportunity with friends, family (including my children) and colleagues,
• following anti-racism activists on Instagram,
• taking my family to BLM protests (when I feel that social distancing is being observed),
• adding a long list of fiction and non-fiction books by Black authors to my summer reading list so that I am better equipped to have conversations about white privilege and racism,
• addressing comments that show ignorance to the BLM movement,
• donating to charities committed to the anti-racist movement,
• seeking out and supporting retailers who are making a conscious effort to support Black owned businesses,
• not bragging about my efforts on social media.

Bea - first protest signSo, now that I have that off my chest, I can address what my column is supposed to be about – how to be a parent in the time of COVID (I think).

Homeschooling
Doing 1-2 hours of work a day is no substitute for being in school. It was better when I wasn’t working full time, and things definitely started to slip towards the end. Leo started taking ownership for completing his own work, which sounds great, but he was taking short cuts everywhere. On the plus side, he started taking advantage of his English teacher’s drop in Google Meets. He also wore his signature sombrero for every virtual class (which made me smile).

Bea with school workBea started having Google Meets with her class. Her teacher is amazing! I marvel at how she maintains full control of a group of Grade 1 students while using video conferencing. I know a lot of parents who gave up on the homeschooling towards the end. Personally, I found it useful; it gave us a purpose and something to do.

Summer Plans
Summer is normally a tense time in my marriage. As a teacher with summers off, I struggle to fill the days with the kids. Meanwhile, I dare not complain because ‘I’m on holiday.’ But my ideal holiday does not include being camp leader to two whingy kids all summer long. A positive thing that has come out of the pandemic is that Dan has finally had a glimpse into what spending three consecutive months with the kids all day long is like and I think we are on the same page now.

Last year, I had a whole summer bucket list and we did pretty well – library once a week, public pools, museums, and play dates, etc. This year is really going to push my creativity (and resourcefulness) to the limit. And since my summer holiday officially starts tomorrow, I’ve only started giving thought to how this is going to work.

The COVID vibe is weird. Mostly it seems like life has gone back to normal, but hang on, aren’t we still recording 300 odd cases a day in Ontario? The COVID numbers have completely dropped off the news cycle so I think most people are either coming to terms with the possibility that they might catch COVID, or they are just sick of social distancing. I’m still reticent to take my kids into any stores or public places that aren’t essential, but we are venturing out to the drive-in and planning to share a cottage with another family. Three months of isolation with my family has proven to me that we can all survive the togetherness, and gosh darn it, I really like these three people that I’m stuck with (even Bea).

Leo - candlesSeptember
Oh Lordy – this is going to be interesting. If regular citizens are acting cavalier about COVID, the Health Department and Ministry of Education sure aren’t. Parents and teachers are preparing for three possible scenarios which almost feels like kismet since last year teachers were fighting against eLearning and larger classes, and now we will likely see a compromise between these two issues. One thing is for sure, school is going to look very different for everyone. Teachers are going to be working hard over the summer to upskill and prepare for new delivery methods. My school is moving into a Hyflex Lyte model, which sounds fancy, but essentially will just enable us to move seamlessly from in-person to remote learning when the second wave inevitably hits. Plexi-glass, PPE, and sanitizing workstations every 75 minutes are inevitably in my future.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to getting back into the classroom, whatever it may look like. And not just because it is a break from my kids; although, I may be taking them with me on odd days. And if we end up back at home…well, at least I’ve amassed an impressive amount of witty Zoom backgrounds to keep things light!

Related new stories:

Week 5

Week 6

Week 8

Week 9

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Burlington native forms what he thinks can become a national program to aid people who need guidance finding the right legal help

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 22nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Alex Don, a Burlington native, a graduate of Assumption High school and a Member of the Upper Canada Law Society with a legal education that took place in France, England and McGill University, has created a not-for-profit organization that is offering pro bono legal services across Canada using a network of 400 volunteers.

Alex Don

Alex Don, founder of the National Canadian Lawyers Initiative.

While studying in Strasbourg France Don served as a Clerk for a Judge with the Court of Human Rights where he became much more aware of the need to respect the rights and needs of ordinary people within the Judicial system.

When he began to practice law he chose the field of insolvency and corporate reorganization as his specialty.

Don first saw the need for help for those who were hit by the impact of Covid19.  They needed legal help but didn’t have the funds needed to retain a lawyer but more importantly – they didn’t know where to look for the help they needed.  For many their normal income stream had dried up.

When Alex Don started receiving calls from people who were encountering legal problems as result of the COVID-19 crisis, but were unable to provide a retainer because their income had been affected he decided to create an organization that could meet the needs of several groups.

The National Canadian Lawyers Initiative (NCLI), which currently has an office in Burlington, was founded on April 28 and received approval from the Law Society of Ontario to provide pro bono legal service on May 14.

NCLI logoNCLI was created to improve the access to justice especially during the COVID19 period. Alex Don then realized that access to justice was a problem for many people long before we had to deal with Covid19.

“When I started receiving calls” said Don ” I soon realized there was a very large unmet need. That was when the idea for a national organization took for in my mind.

“We created a platform where this help could be made available

“The volunteer lawyers, many of whom are law students, do not go to court to defend people. They are there to listen and document the legal problem and then prepare a short brief which is sent along to lawyers who are in a position to take on cases.

“The volunteer can and have spent up to as much as five hours talking to people with legal problems. They focus on identifying the problems and then do what they can to pair them up with a lawyer

Don reports that NCLI has gotten as many as 100 calls some days.

The Law Society does have a program that gives a 30 minute conversation with a lawyer at no cost to the caller. Few senior lawyers take on this type of Law Society volunteer work.

Ontario has a Legal Aid service that involves a means test that many people don’t qualify for – they aren’t poor enough. They have jobs but they don’t know where to turn to for the kind of help they need.

At the same time there are hundreds of lawyers who have been called to the bar but don’t have much in the way of experience – they know the law, they can write applications but they don’t have clients.

Don decided there was an opportunity to help people and reached out to various colleagues to create an online platform that could do just that.

“People need help with contracts that are not working out, lease agreements that have to be renewed or employment matters – there are legal problems everywhere.

Don saw a need during the Covid19 crisis and then realized that the need was a lot bigger. He wants to grow the organization and once it is proven begin looking for funding to make it part of the legal infrastructure.

NCLI team

Some of the members of the National Canadian Lawyers Initiative.

“This is why our team of volunteers have started this not-for-profit, to help the people in our communities. Our mission is simple: To launch a web-based platform that will match law students and newly-called lawyers to seasoned legal professionals who together will provide the much-needed legal advice in their communities, quickly, efficiently and most importantly free of charge.”

There is currently as lot of federal funding in place; some of which Don thinks might be available to fund NCLI adding “we might be able to help people determine if they are eligible for financial support.

Alex Don started out seeing the NCLI initiative as a temporary 12-month program that could help people in all areas of law, with the exception of criminal law.

NCLI is an attempt to pair law students or men and women recently called to the bar, with mentors who can guide them. “A lot of law students lost their summer placements,” said Mark Mejia Kuznetsova, a vice president at NCLI.

“There are a lot of students with a lot of time on their hands and not much to do during the summer months … This way they will get some experience and give back to society.”

The NCLI operates on a first-come, first-served, triaged basis.

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HDSB a couple of steps ahead of the province on what the return to school in September might look like.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The official end of the 2019-20 school year has yet to be celebrated. It will end with a deeply felt sigh of relief by most parents and some trepidation as well when discussions arise over how school will operate in September.

Cleaners - schools

The only people in the schools are the caretakers – and they aren’t putting in shifts at this point.

The Ontario government released its safety plan for the resumption of class for the 2020-21 school year on Friday, outlining scenarios for how students, teachers and staff can safely return to classrooms in September. The plan also provides choices to parents, enhanced online learning, and additional funding.

The decision to return to the normal school day routine will continue to be based on medical advice, boards and schools are being asked to plan for alternative scenarios that may need to be implemented in September depending on the province’s COVID-19 situation.

“Nothing is more important than protecting our kids in this province. Parents expect us to take every precaution to keep their children safe when they go back to school in September – and that’s exactly what we’re delivering today,” said Premier Ford. “This plan takes the best medical advice available from our public heath experts to ensure every school board and every school is ready to ensure students continue learning in the safest way possible.”

Ontario’s plan to safely reopen schools will provide options for parents – to send their children in-class or to enter online learning – with health, safety and well-being at its core. Boards will be asked to plan for the following three scenarios to be implemented in September, depending on the public health situation at the time:

1. Normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols – Students going to school every day, in classes that reflect standard class size regulations.

2. Modified school day routine – Based on public health advice, an adapted delivery model has been designed to allow for physical distancing and cohorts of students. Under this model, school boards are asked to maintain a limit of 15 students in a typical classroom at one time and adopt timetabling that would allow for students to remain in contact only with their classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible. This model would require alternate day or alternate week delivery to a segment of the class at one time.

3. At home learning – Should the school closure be extended, or some parents choose not to send their children back to school, school boards need to be prepared to offer remote education. Remote education should be delivered online to the greatest extent possible, including the establishment of minimum expectations for students to have direct contact with their teachers at the same time on a regular basis, also known as synchronous learning. Synchronous learning can be used as part of whole class instruction, in smaller groups of students, and/or in a one-on-one context.

The government is instructing school boards to be prepared with a plan, should it be required, that includes an adapted delivery model, which could include alternate day or alternate week attendance, staggered bell times and recess, and different transportation arrangements, among a variety of other considerations to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Halton District School Board had a Task Team in place before the Provincial announcement.

The government’s safety plan for schools was created following extensive consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children, education sector partners, front line workers, parents and students. While this plan reflects the best medical and scientific advice and recommendations available, parents who do not feel comfortable having their children physically return to school will have a choice to pursue online remote learning.

Stephen Leece

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce doing a fist bump with a student.

“We are taking every precaution, investing more, and listening to the best medical advice in the country to keep students, staff, and families safe,” said Minister Lecce. “I want to assure parents safety is our guiding principle and the right supports are being put in place to ensure our students are set up for success. I am grateful to Ontario students, education staff, and communities for stepping up during this difficult period.”

“Having careful plans in place to reopen schools in September is of the utmost importance for the mental and developmental health of children and youth, as well as their academic success,” says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids. “The risk posed by COVID-19 cannot be completely eliminated, however, there are significant steps that can be taken to mitigate risk and protect the health and well-being of students, staff and their families.”

Key elements of the safety plan include:

• guidance for developing health and safety protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment;
• expectations of an in-class school environment;
• professional development training for teachers on the new protocols and directions;
• supports for students with special education needs;
• enhanced mental health and well-being supports;
• proposals on how educators and students can move fluidly between in-class and remote learning;
• guidelines to help schools and boards in their communications with students and parents;
• guidelines for student transportation systems;
• expectations for the delivery of curriculum and assessment across subjects and grades;
• guidance for working with First Nations students, parents and communities;
• regional options for reopening based on the advice of local public health authorities; and
• a checklist to help boards in their reopening planning.

Moreover, the government announced $4 million in net new funding for cleaning, cleaning protocols, and financial support to hire additional custodial staff in September to ensure schools are safe.

Jean Vanier secondary school

These are hallways that haven’t seen students for more than 100 days

School boards have been asked to prepare their own safety plans for the upcoming school year and submit them to the ministry by August 4, 2020. The ministry will be providing all boards with an opportunity to share their draft plans and seek feedback from a formalized table of medical experts that the ministry will be convening.

School boards will also be required to communicate with parents and students prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year, outlining the safety plan, guidance on health and safety measures and protocols, and any other changes that will be implemented when schools open in September.

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Ontario's driver testing services provider, DriveTest, will begin to gradually offer limited driver testing services in a staggered, phased approach across the province

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On Monday, June 22, 2020, Ontario’s driver testing services provider, DriveTest, will begin to gradually offer limited driver testing services in a staggered, phased approach across the province. Driver Examination services will be reintroduced in three phases until full services are restored this fall. The gradual approach will ensure that strict protocols are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is part of the government’s efforts to ensure that critical services are in place so people can return to work as Ontario reopens.

Visiting DriveTest Centres

To reduce crowding and support new requirements for physical distancing, health checks and enhanced sanitation, most DriveTest centres will serve customers who want to take a knowledge test, exchange a driver’s licence and apply for or upgrade a commercial driver’s licence based on when they were born.

People with birthdays between January to June will be allowed to visit a centre the first week of reopening and people with birthdays between July to December will have access to DriveTest services the following week:

Driver test dates McKenna

Access to DriveTest services will continue to alternate weekly until full services are restored.

Plan Your Trip to DriveTest Before You Go

Learn more about available driver testing services, how to access DriveTest centres, and which customers are being served each week at DriveTest.ca.

Information will be updated every Monday.

Extended Driver’s Licence Status

The Ontario government has extended the validity of all Ontario driver’s licences to keep people safe and reduce the need for in-person visits to ServiceOntario and DriveTest centres to contain the spread of COVID-19. No one will lose their licence due to COVID-19.

Access to the different services available is being phased in.

Phase 1

On Monday, June 22, 2020, all 56 full-time DriveTest Centres will reopen for the following transactions:

G1 knowledge and vision tests

M1 knowledge and vision tests

Driver’s licence exchanges
Out-of-province licences
Out-of-country licences (jurisdictions with reciprocal driver’s licensing)
Out-of-country licences (non-reciprocating jurisdictions)

Commercial driver’s licence applications and upgrades
Knowledge tests
Vision tests
Medical report submissions
Criminal Record and Judicial Matters (CRJM) Check or equivalent document submissions
School Bus Driver Improvement Course certificate submissions

New Entrant Education and Evaluation Program (NEEEP)/ Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) Test

Commercial road tests (Class A, B, C, D, E, F and Z) at 28 locations across Ontario:
Barrie, Belleville, Brampton, Brantford, Burlington, Chatham, Clinton, Cornwall, Downsview, Guelph, Hamilton, Hawkesbury, Kitchener, Kingston, Lindsay, London, Newmarket, Oshawa, Orangeville, Orillia, Ottawa Walkley, Peterborough, Sault Ste Marie, St. Catharines, Simcoe, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins

Phase 2

Starting on Tuesday, August 4, the following services will be available:

Road-testing for G2 driver licences

Road-testing for all motorcycle licences

Commercial driver road testing will expand to the remaining 22 DriveTest locations across Ontario that road test commercial drivers.

Part-time Travel Point locations will resume driver examination services as locations become available for the public’s use.

Phase 3

Starting on Tuesday, September 8, all DriveTest centres and Travel Point locations will be fully operational, including G road-testing services.

Ontario will work with the service provider and with public health officials to ensure that the above dates are appropriate depending on the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

New Health and Safety Protocols

To protect the safety of Ontarians, DriveTest will also require customers to wear face coverings inside centres and during road tests, sanitize their hands when they enter the building and undergo temperature checks before road tests.

All DriveTest staff will wear personal protective equipment when serving customers. Driver examiners will also be equipped with face shields, sanitizer packages and seat covers when conducting road tests.

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Director of Education admits: 'We made some mistakes': has a Task Team in place to think through what will happen in September.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 18th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A week from today school would have closed for the academic year.

We just didn’t have all that much of an academic year.

Parents and students adjusted to the changes – not always easily. There are still grade 12 students who are working with their teachers to get to the point where they can graduate.

The Premier and his Minister of Education promised that every student who put in the effort would graduate – and if that required extra tutoring then extra tutoring would be available.

Now what ?

Does school start again in September?

School will start – just what form it takes is far from clear. The Province has said they will announce their plans for the Boards of Education across the province by the end of the month.

Miller prep at Central

Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board Director of Education speaking to parents at Central High School.

Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board isn’t leaving anything to chance.

He has appointed a Task Team co-chaired by two of his top Superintendents to take a deep look at what educators are up against and what the possible options are.

Terry Blackwell and Scott Podrebarac are co-chairs of the Task Force.

Scott Podrebarac was the Superintendent that oversaw the implementation of the Board decision to close two of Burlington’s seven high school. He didn’t get much in the way of brownie points for that job.

His job was to do what the Board of Trustees determined – it did get a little messy when the decision to close Central High School was rescinded and Bateman high school was closed instead. That decision did not go well with the Bateman parents.

Blackwell

Terry Blackwell

Terry Blackwell was the Superintendent tasked with creating an iStem program for Aldershot High School that turned out to be an amazing success. Miller and his staff were not at all sure that the parents in the Region would take to the idea.

Blackwell and Miller at itsem Nov 2018

Superintendent Terry Blackwell and Director of Education during the night parents showed up to register their children for the iStem program at Aldershot High School.

Registration was much higher than expected and while the first year, made up of grade nine students, wasn’t a full academic year, the students did very well.

The Gazette covered those iStem classes on several occasions – they are an amazing bunch of students.

The plan is for a second iStem program to be opened in Milton.

Scott-P-close-up-400x355

Scott Podrebarac

Scott Podrebarac showed an ability to handle a very tense situation over a long period of time.

Blackwell sounded every stakeholder she could think of as the listened to the community and what they thought a more science based high school program should look like.

Her listening tour was extensive – the most extensive we have seen within any organization during the ten years we have been reporting on Burlington.

These two Superintendents will be looking at possible directions the delivery of an education can take. Will there be more “on-line learning”? Can students adapt to the change and how much of a change is necessary.

One hope that at some point there will be an opportunity for the public to have significant input on a critical public service.

In commenting on what the province meant when the Premier said there would be a plan in place for September, Miller said “We don’t know what it means.”

Stuart Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller – never to far from a cup of coffee

Everything hinges on the number of new infections that are reported – and that number, according to what the science community tells us, is dependent on people staying far enough apart so that the infection is not transferred person to person.

There are a lot of unknowns – which Miller said creates a huge challenge for staff and a lot of uncertainty for parents.

The school closures resulted in less spending on facility operations but very large sums had to be spent on technology and software so that teachers could communicate with their students and get them through the course load.

Miller said that the Educational Assistants were able to work the telephones and keep in touch with the students – in what we learned was a much needed support role.

Principals-table-768x438

Some of the Halton District School Board principals and vice principals at a PARC meeting. These people had to administer schools that weren’t open and support staff they could not meet with.

Asked what was the biggest challenge he has had to face Miller replied with: Everything was a challenge and we certainly made some mistakes. It wasn’t a day by day situation – in the early phases it was hour by hour.

Internet access turn out to be a big problem, teachers were not sure what the best approach was in many given situations. Students, as well as parents, were concerned that their children were not getting the education they needed and deserved but everyone realized that the classrooms were closed for very good reasons.

Miller realizes that this situation isn’t over nor is he at all sure what direction it is going to go in.

“We have great students and great teachers” said Miller. “I am fortunate to have a senior staff that comes through day after day.

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Halton District School Board grads earn some prestigious scholarships - none came from Burlington schools.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

June 16th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

The Halton District School Board is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of numerous students who have received prestigious scholarships for September 2020 that recognize their outstanding achievements and will support their academic studies.

Miller prep at Central

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller

“We are so proud of the accomplishments of our Halton students,” says Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board points to the “…hard work, dedication and perseverance” that has caught the attention of many post-secondary institutions while inspiring all of us in the Board. We are confident you will enjoy much success in your studies and beyond, as you make a tremendous difference in this world.”

The following Grade 12 students have been awarded significant scholarships at Canadian universities based on their outstanding academic performance, leadership, involvement in extracurricular activities, or commitment to community service:

Yash Mulki, Abbey Park HS: Schulich Leader Scholarship to the University of Waterloo

Anya Sarma, Iroquois Ridge HS: Western University National President’s Scholarship

Rohan Atal, Iroquois Ridge HS: Queen’s University Chancellor’s Scholarship

Nicholas Chronis, Iroquois Ridge HS: Queen’s University Chancellor’s Scholarship

Cole Sweet, White Oaks SS: Schulich Leader Scholarship to Western University

Eric Xu, White Oaks SS: Western University National Scholarship

Madeleine King, Georgetown District HS: University of Toronto National Scholarship

Ahmed Raja, Craig Kielburger SS: Schulich Leaders Scholarship to McMaster University (along with other scholarships from McMaster)

Urmi Sheth, Oakville Trafalgar HS: York University Governors’ Awards of Distinction: Betty-Jean and John M. Bankes Scholarship.

That is a very impressive list. There were no Burlington grade 12 students recognized.

 

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Retail and hospitality sectors asked to make the Promise to follow the rules when they open on Friday.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

June 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Last week Oakville North Burlington MP Pam Damoff released the POST Promise.

The promise is a partnering with the private sector, including the Business Council of Canada, on their POST Promise program.

Post promiseThis initiative calls on businesses to commit to five key public health measures – like physical distancing and handwashing – to protect customers and employees.

I encourage all business owners – whether you have a restaurant, a tech start-up, or a boutique – to join in today at www.postpromise.com.

Together, we can keep people safe and give Canadians the confidence that’s needed to restart our economy.

The POST Promise is a self-declaration that a business is working to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Once completed, a business is provided with the necessary communication and implementation tools to educate employees on the five key steps to workplace safety, which were created to be consistent with what has been recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Businesses who make the promise will be able to use and prominently display the POST Promise logo which is a nationally recognized symbol of a business’ commitment to doing their part to protect their customers’ and employees’ health and safety as COVID-19 restrictions ease. Participating business can also purchase a kit which will include additional communication tools like window decals, posters and tent cards which can be used to further build awareness of their commitment within their place of business.

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HDSB invites parents/guardians and students to provide input on distance learning through survey from June 10-25

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 10th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Distance learning – It has been a contentious issue in a lot of Burlington households.

The Halton District School Board is providing families and students with the opportunity to provide input through online surveys on their experiences with distance learning and to comment on the impacts COVID-19 has had on student mental health. The information gathered will help inform how the Board delivers education and mental health supports in the fall.

All HDSB families, and students in Grade 4-12, are invited to provide input online between June 10-25 by completing these anonymous surveys:

Links to the surveys are:

 Student survey:

Parent/guardian survey:

David Boag

David Boag, Associate Director of Education.

As we prepare for the next school year, we continue to monitor information and advice from the Ministry of Education and public health experts,” says David Boag, Associate Director of Education. “We anticipate that schools will not return to ‘normal’ but will instead likely continue to use some aspect of distance learning. The feedback and perspective we receive through the surveys will help guide our planning and direction for reopening schools in the fall, as well as help us prepare to support student mental health needs.”

The anonymous surveys are available on the HDSB website (hdsb.ca) on the Distance Learning a nd Well-Being survey page. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Electronic translated versions are available in these languages: Arabic, Farsi, French, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin – Simplified Chinese, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish, Urdu.

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Will school be the same come September? What does the public want to say about that at this point?

The government of Ontario is currently looking for feedback on what to do with schools in September. The feedback e-mail is: EDU.consultation@ontario.ca (Include your name and the name of your school board/organization, use “Ontario’s Plan to Reopen Schools” in the subject line, attach your submission as a PDF or Word document.)

 

opinionred 100x100By Greg Woodruff

June 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ontario needs to provide options to parents. They need a mostly traditional school, a COVID-19-adapted school and a virtual school option for the upcoming years. Parents must be able to select the appropriate environment for children.

The primary problem is Ontario’s new Learning Framework presents the overarching priority to “ensure the utmost safety of those returning to school.” Safety must be balanced by social development and educational priorities.

Please imagine for a moment the parents’ goal of utmost safety. Your child requests a playdate with another child. When you call this child’s parent, they say that they can’t condone a playdate, as driving poses a minute risk to the safety of their child. Safety is their utmost priority. Even if you offer to drive your child over, reducing the astronomically small chance of harm to their child, a small risk still exists to others. After all, you can not guarantee a mechanical failure in your own car won’t pose a hazard to yourself or others. The other parent similarly bans unnecessary driving, walking outdoors, biking, playing, swinging, sports or even running. Any protests about the value of these activities are met with a simple reply: You must not care about the safety of your children as much as they do.

This idea — clearly pathological — when presented by a person with a healthy child, now seems to be accepted wisdom when presented by the school administration. While extreme safety may be appropriate in some cases, parents must make that decision. The goal of raising children is not to keep kids safe at all costs; it’s to prepare them for life. Without an assessment of benefit, no activity more than sleeping and eating can be justified. The reverse is also true; All restrictions designed around safety have to be balanced by the harm that limitations do.

screen-time-and-students-banner

He knows what he want to get done and is confident he will be able to do it.

I don’t think we should pretend that instead of encouraging kindergartners to share, now in the name of COVID-19, forbidding them from sharing items won’t hurt them. We are considering telling kids not to play with friends at school because those friends might be diseased. The long-term effects of these ideas on the socialization of children are unknown. Some kids lacking healthy development will likely lack social skills and die from deaths of despair later. I don’t see how you will easily remove these ideas once the threat is “minimal” because the threat to these children is below minimal now. COVID-19 is not a disease seen in children anywhere. We are already below any conceivable threshold of COVID-19 danger to children.

The idea that children can’t normally interact at no harm to themselves because they might later pass the disease on to others is not reasonable. If this is the fear, then interventions need to take place at the point of contact with vulnerable populations. It’s more efficient to place distancing or testing protocols when children visit grandparents then prevent two million school-age children from playing with friends and doing group work in class. We can’t force children to carry a heavy burden for others just because they don’t vote and can’t defend themselves. I realize that some parents or siblings will themselves be immunocompromised and need additional safety measures.

Students at Lincoln Centennial public school. Ontario school boards are struggling to find low-cost options to school additions to accommodate full-day kindergarten. Some options may include bussing kids. Reading are Heyley Ta and Zeynep Coskan-Johnson. Feb 21 2013. Bob TYmczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/QMI AGENCY

Students getting the play time, exploring and learning in a traditional school setting.

That is why we also need a COVID-19 adapted school. Some families will not be able to accept any risk, and virtual options are needed for them. I am not suggesting COVID-19 is something to be ignored; it just needs to be handled in a more customized way than one school solution meets all families’ needs.

Heath experts and school board staff should not be in a position to place kids in damaging environments. The burden of making tradeoffs falls alone on parents. Thus, I suggest we must let parents decide what situation represents the best fit for the kids they know. I suggest allowing parents to select if they prefer a mostly traditional environment for children, an environment with intrusive COVID-19 interventions or virtual school options. The administration can then select locations for each type of school for the next one or two years. The staff can similarly be asked which setting they prefer. Kids can then be bussed to the location that fits them. This is already done for four different school boards; surely, one more configuration is possible.

Simply relying on “health experts” to draw up school rules is not appropriate. Although they may be disease experts, they are almost certainly not experts in the education and development of children. Without being an expert in children, they cannot evaluate the harm caused by COVID-19 measures correctly. If no harm is recognized now, then there is no incentive for removal later. As time goes on, more children will be exposed and have immunity naturally. We could end up with highly tortured school environments where 99% of children are immune to COVID-19, but where we have no structure to normalize school.

We have to face the fact that for political reasons, many proposed COVID-19 measures will likely go on for years. COVID-19 interventions do not represent some response to a temporary emergency. In September, COVID-19 will have been present in our community for six months. The best case is then another year or two to a vaccine. Perhaps we will never have a COVID-19 vaccine. Thus, the damage to children is occurring over the years of developmental time and is likely permanent.

Any interventions established as the “new normal” will be demanded by some number of parents forever, even if COVID-19 is eradicated.

As an example, let’s say “no gym” in the name of possible transmission of the disease. If you try to restore gym class later, any parent in the school can now say, “Gym is now a danger to my child. The school board has defined it so.” Even if the risk of flu is low to them, it risks spreading the flu to Grandma, whose immune system is compromised. This is the same logic used to justify interventions now. Once “gym” is defined as a danger now under what construction is, it no longer dangerous? Again, COIVD-19 does not affect children at any significant rate.

Child getting off school bus

Is the day of the happy student charging off the school bus to get to the classroom behind us?

I would put forward that some easy COIVD-19 interventions can be added to schools without damaging the social development of children. Measures like preventing febrile children from attending, washing hands every hour or disinfection of shoes when entering school grounds should be taken. It’s not that COVID-19 transmission should be ignored; it’s that heavy interventions that damage the normal social growth of children should not be globally applied without parental approval.

Ontario needs to support families by providing the school environment best suited to them. Three options need to be provided: traditional school, COVID-19 adapted school and virtual school.

WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident with children at the elementary school level.  He is an active participant in social issues and has run for public office on more than one occasion

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Resiliency and mental health - subject of an online workshop June 18th

eventspink 100x100By Staff

June 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Resiliency and mental health can determine how well individuals overcome the stresses and uncertainty of any situation.

Mental health

Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

They are two very important aspects connected to a pandemic and how we cope with the social isolation and major disruption to the way we live our lives.  Burlington residents are invited to attend an educational online talk from Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

There is no cost but participation is limited to the first 500 participants.

To register, please email getinvolved@burlington.ca by Tuesday, June 16 at 4 p.m. Participants will be emailed the Zoom Meeting link on June 17.

The events in these first few months of 2020 have been an incredible test of our resilience. Our existence has been stripped down to the essentials. We are in a global fight to protect and manage our health. This global crisis will change the world forever, and each of us will inevitably be transformed by the experience. This pandemic will be taught in future history classes!

As with all seasons and events of challenge, how we respond is crucial. In this remote learning event, Dr. Hanley-Dafoe will present her work on resiliency that includes the five core competencies from a global perspective. Dr. Hanley-Dafoe will discuss how to best navigate personal and professional resiliency in times of uncertainty through stress performance, targeted focusing and value alignment.

She will also introduce the Resiliency Trajectory Model to serve as a tool for seeing resiliency in action. The information is researched informed, readily available, and is grounded in wise practices. Her aim is to facilitate knowledge mobilization that is relatable, accessible, sustainable and realistic. The information presented here may not be radical, but it is ultimately practical for the everyday resiliency we all need right now.

Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe is a psychology and education instructor who specializes in resiliency, navigating stress and change, leadership, and personal wellness in the workplace. Described as transformational, engaging, and thought-provoking, Robyne’s keynotes provide practical strategies grounded in global research and case studies that help foster resiliency within others and ourselves.

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Upcoming telephone town hall on June 4 will focus on what summer in the city will look like in the current COVID-19 situation

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON
Thursday, June 4, between 6 and 7:30 p.m., the City of Burlington will hold another telephone town hall event to share information and answer resident questions about what summer in the city will look like during the current COVID-19 situation.

The town hall will be hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who will be joined by a panel of local leaders to help answer residents’ questions.

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

1. 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 on June 3.
Please note: if you registered for either of the two previous town halls (held on March 26 and April 14), you are not required to register your phone number a second time.

2. Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-779-7154 just before 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 4 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 during the 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 after June 4.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will be connecting directly with the community on what will be the third public telephone town hall since this crisis began. With the volume of ever-changing information people are dealing with on a daily basis, the Mayor wants to create the opportunity to answer questions about current health advice and testing, programs and facilities that are resuming throughout the city, and how we can continue to mitigate the spread of this virus while we adjust to the reopening of many businesses, services and popular activities this summer.

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Burlington residents can call 905-632-3737, ext. 6550 to book an appointment for a test at Joseph Brant Hospital’s COVID-19 Assessment Clinic.

covid virusBy Staff

May 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Province has it would expand COVID-19 testing across Ontario to include people who are asymptomatic.

Premier Ford also encouraged individuals to attend assessment centres for testing whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms or if they are concerned that they may have been exposed.

The Province remains responsible for testing directives and guidance, processing lab tests and online test results.

Rose parking spot

Designated parking spots for those being tested at Joseph Brant Hospital

In the Region of Halton, the Assessment Centres are operated by and located at our four hospitals.

Burlington residents can call 905-632-3737, ext. 6550 to book an appointment for a test at Joseph Brant Hospital’s COVID-19 Assessment Clinic.

Ontario Health president and CEO Matthew Anderson advised COVID-19 Assessment Centre leaders of the change in direction to test anyone who is:

Symptomatic or

Asymptomatic.

In medicine, a disease is considered asymptomatic if a patient is a carrier for a disease or infection but experiences no symptoms. If you are concerned about exposure to known or potential cases; and/or have risk from exposure in line of duty – essential workers and health care workers.

The purpose of the change, according to Ontario Health, is to support and monitor more actively the essential workers who are at risk, as well as anyone who is worried that they have been exposed or have contracted COVID-19, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Ontario Health also notes that most transmissions occur in a home-based setting, so expansion to asymptomatic individuals may help us detect any further disease spread and most importantly, help as the economy is reopened.

Assessment Centres are being advised not to turn anyone away. Also, people no longer need to be referred to an assessment centre by Telehealth Ontario, Primary Care, or Public Health.

The Ministry of Health will soon be listing all of the assessment centres on the www.ontario.ca website, with addresses, etc., so the public can find assessment centres easily. It will also be starting a public education campaign very shortly that will encourage essential workers, as well as anyone who is worried that they have COVID-19 (even if they don’t have symptoms) to be tested.

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward – has she been tested?

Mayor Marianne Ward supports the changes announced by Premier Ford and the Province to increase testing. “We know increased testing capacity is critical as the provincial government moves to allow more businesses and facilities to open. Testing is especially critical among people who may not yet be experiencing symptoms, as these may take one to two weeks to appear, in which time, individuals may be at risk of infecting others.

“Enhanced testing is one of the key criteria in any reopening strategy, alongside contact tracing, hospital capacity, and sustained reduction in new infections.”

The number of new infections has not decreased enough for the province to open things up. Unfortunately many don’t seem to understand that the virus is out there hopping from person to person.

A well known Burlington resident active in the running community said on his Facebook page:

“It was good to see the young people of Toronto hanging out and enjoying Bellwood Park this weekend. “People are becoming more relaxed. On my return home this past week my neighbor and his wife met us with a big hug. While up North my neighbor from Toronto his daughter and I worked closely putting his motor on his boat. It is also encouraging to see the small but gradual increases in our local business sector. We need to lengthen our stride and move on to the road of recovery.”

The Premier has some advice: Get tested and take your friends with you

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Bateman High School Closing has to a viral event.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 22nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a different school. It had character and was truly diverse

It was a vibrant school.

FIRE Bateman principal at siren

School principal Mark Duley using an older model of a fire siren to get student attention.

The fight to keep it open lasted longer than many people expected but the end has come

Closed for the last quarter of the year Robert Bateman will hold a virtual closing event on June 18th.

The Halton District School Board is organizing a virtual celebration of Robert Bateman High School (2004-2020) on Thursday, June 18, 2020, 7 p.m. at www.hdsb.ca in lieu of an in-person event, given current public health restrictions on large gatherings.

Robert Bateman High School will close its doors at the end of June 2020 after 16 years; with students moving to nearby Nelson High School and the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) students moving to Burlington Central High School.

Closing Bateman was part of the re-alignment of the seven high schools that were reduced to five.

High school students have taken to the streets in the past to make their point; in this situation the Robert BAteman High School made their point.

High school students have taken to the streets in the past to make their point.

The original plan was to close Central high school along with Lester B. Pearson. After vigorous public debate the decision was to close Bateman and Pearson high school.

The closing celebrations will recognize and honour the diversity and talents of current and former students and staff.

Robert Bateman High School students, staff and alumni are encouraged to share their memories of RBHS with a picture or short video sent to the organizing committee via email at RBHScelebrations@hdsb.ca by Tuesday, June 2. These memories will be included in the online school closing celebrations.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Despite vigorous protests the parents were not able to make the board, particularly the trustees make the best choice.

Current students, staff, and alumni who wish to have an artifact or piece of memorabilia from Robert Bateman HS are encouraged to visit the RBHS Memorabilia and Artifact website to see what is available and learn how to request an item. The website will be live on Monday, May 25. Please check back as items will continue to be added.

Further information and event updates will be posted on the Robert Bateman High School website (rbh.hdsb.ca), Facebook Page RBHS Celebrations, Twitter @RBHScelebration and Instagram @RBHScelebrations.

If schools are able to move forward with large in-person gatherings for graduating students this fall, in accordance with public health guidelines, the HDSB plans to incorporate school closing activities into that event.

 

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