Daily Covid in the Schools information available to parents and the general public

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Saying that “The Premier and our government made a promise to parents, that we would ensure that they would have access to the same information that we have.” the province created a web site that will report on the most up-to-date COVID-19 information available, including a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies.

If a COVID-19 case is confirmed at a school it will be posted to the web site.  Data is current as of 2:00 pm the previous day.

Click HERE for the web site.

Set out below is what one of the pages on the web site looks like.

 

Covid cases school report

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Performing Arts will put on performances starting October 2 - No more than 50 people in the theatre at a time - all wearing masks

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With Public Health saying holding an event with up to 50 people was now legit Tammy Fox, Executive Director  at the Performing Arts Centre has released her fall season program.

Abbreviated as it is – it is a welcome step forward.

That 50 people rule means that there will be no more than 50 people in the theater – they will be masked and spread out so that the six foot separation measure is met.

Tammy Fox hands-out-768x578

Tammy Fox is thrilled – she wants her patrons to return and has a solid program in place.

Tammy is thrilled – as well she should be.  She has been stuck at home pushing paper and working the telephone.  Tammy Fox is a people person – she needs interaction with people.

The Fall line-up of incredible live entertainment options to lift the community’s spirits in these unprecedented times is part of why the program was put together.

“As a facility, BPAC is perfectly positioned to welcome back audiences with patron safety at the forefront;  with its spacious Lobby, increased ventilation, physical-distancing ticketing system and additional health and safety measures to put theatregoers’ minds at ease.

“Many presenters have pivoted to exploring online content offerings and virtual performances, and while BPAC is also considering live streaming options, the organization believes that there really is no replacement for the experience of live entertainment in engaging the community and in supporting Canadian artists.

“All patrons must wear a mask, hand sanitize upon entry and maintain social distancing outside of their social circle. Patrons are expected to self-screen, and of course to stay at home if experiencing COVID-related symptoms or if suspecting recent exposure to the virus. Health and safety measures are also being implemented backstage to protect artists, and throughout the venue to protect staff and volunteers.

Most performances will be 70-75 minutes in length, and while the Lobby bar will remain open for one hour prior to each performance, intermissions have been suspended in most cases in order to reduce the risk of overcrowding in the Lobby.

Spoons - female lead

Sandy Horne – one of  The Spoons.

Kicking off the Fall line-up is an intimate evening with Burlington’s own THE SPOONS on Friday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 3rd at 8pm, performing as an acoustic duo.

Canadian pop superstar CHANTAL KREVIAZUK will be presented over a three-evening period from October 8th to 10th. “We all have a need to connect so badly right now and there is no better way than through the music. If we can do this safely, I am thrilled and well, to be fair to my kids, they could use a break from their mother!” says Chantal.

gord-downie-in-tears

Gord Downie.

BPAC’s annual Cultural Diversity Festival will begin with its yearly fundraising performance LEGACY: A Tribute to Gord Downie in support of the Downie-Wenjack Fund, featuring Hamilton native TOM WILSON, Indigenous duo TWIN FLAMES, and more, on Thursday, October 15th and Friday, October 16th.

On October 17th and 18th audiences will be treated to BENEATH SPRINGHILL: The Maurice Ruddick Story, about the racial tensions that surfaced in a rural community as a result of a mining disaster, written and performed by Stratford actor Beau Dixon, who seamlessly plays 10 vivid characters. BPAC will also present four performances of DRAG QUEEN MUSIC BINGO with Fluffy Soufflé – each one featuring a different era of music, and tons of exciting prizes to be won!

Two events that had been scheduled for the second half of BPAC’s 19/20 Season, which had to be canceled due the pandemic, have been rescheduled – jazz artist ELISE LEGROW on October 25th and singer/songwriter KEVIN FOX: Songs for Cello & Voice on November 1st.

Sean Cullen

Comedian Sean Cullen

Toronto mainstay the ALTdot COMEDY LOUNGE will be presented at BPAC for the first time, in a series of performances over October 30th, 31st and November 27th and 28th. The October 30th performances will feature actor-comedian SEAN CULLEN with host ALI HASSAN.

Other performances will include comics Nigel Grinstead, Keith Pedro, Peter White, Patrick Haye and more.

Multiple Juno-Award winner SARAH SLEAN takes the stage on Saturday, November 7th and CBC Radio host and BPAC favourite TOM ALLEN presents A POE CABARET on Sunday, November 8th.

Classical pianist LESLIE KINTON Celebrates Beethoven on November 29th and Talk is Free Theatre will present INTO THE WOODS In Concert, a ‘lightly staged’ musical theatre production featuring both professional performers and 27 local youth from December 3rd to 12th.

The firsttwopeople to enter the Mian Theatre for a paid performance hand their tickets to an usher.

The first two people to enter the Main Theatre for a paid performance hand their tickets to an usher. Staff are hoping the audiences return.

Tammy Fox, BPAC’s Executive Director, is hoping that audiences will return with pent-up enthusiasm after months of having only online access to entertainment, and with a new appreciation of the importance of communal connection.

“Putting together a fall season full of incredible Canadian talent over the span of a week has been a little hectic to say the least,” she says, “however the applause really needs to go to our staff, who have been working tirelessly to ensure our safe reopening, to our Board of Directors whose unwavering support in resuming live entertainment offerings has given us the confidence to forge ahead, and to all of the amazing artists who have agreed to be included in the Season – because frankly they have all, in deference to our 50-patron capacity limit, committed to performing at rates well below what they deserve and are accustomed to.

It’s been a team effort, and I am beyond grateful to be surrounded by this community of dedicated artists and arts-lovers.”

BPAC Board Chair Nancy Brewer says “We’ve been holding your seat! And now, what a fantastic fall season we have for you. I’d love to see you in the audience as BPAC welcomes you back, safe, secure & ready to entertain you!”

Tickets go on sale to BPAC Members on Friday, September 11th, and on sale to the general public on Monday, September 14. Renew your BPAC membership to be first in line and to receive $5 off all regular-priced tickets!

Visit https://burlingtonpac.ca for a complete listing of performances.

Box Office Information:
Online: www.burlingtonpac.ca
Over the Phone: 905.681.6000 – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm
In Person: 1 hour before each performance.

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City will hold 5th Telephone Town Hall September 23rd

eventsorange 100x100By Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is going to host a fifth Telephone Town Hall on September 23rd that will focus on COVID-19 as we head into the fall season.

The event will be between 7:00 and 8:00 pm when information will be shared and questions answered.

These events have been very useful – it serves as a place for people to go when looking for answers and gives the city a sense as to where the concerns are.

That the Director of Education for both the Catholic and the Public Boards of Education are taking part suggests where the serious concerns are.

The Mayor will host the event; taking part with her are:

Tim Commisso, City Manager at the City of Burlington
Pat Daly, Director of Education at Halton Catholic District School Board
Stuart Miller, Director of Education at Halton District School Board
Eric Vandewall, President and Chief Executive Officer at Joseph Brant Hospital
Mary Battaglia, Director of Roads, Parks and Forestry, City of Burlington
Denise Beard, Manager of Community Development, City of Burlington
Allan Magi, Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services, City of Burlington
Rory Nisan, Ward 3 City and Regional Councillor

Members of Burlington City Council will be present and listening.

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 Sept. 22.
Please note: if you registered for any of the previous town halls (held on March 26, April 14, June 4 or July 16), you are not required to register your phone number again. To remove a name from the call list, email getinvolved@burlington.ca by the end of the day on Sept. 22.

2. Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-779-0904 just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23 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.

Many of the 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 Sept. 23.

 

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The show will go on. Burlington Student Theatre is returning to the stage –six feet apart

artsorange 100x100By Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington’s Student Theatre programs will be returning this fall with opportunities for youth ages 4 to 17 years.

Actors from Burlington Student Theatre were on hand for the turning over of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

Actors from Burlington Student Theatre

Beginning Sept. 29, participating young actors and actresses will be performing at either the Burlington Performing Arts Centre or the Student Theatre building. No experience is necessary to participate.

Online registration for Burlington residents opens Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. Non-Burlington residents can register on Sept. 18 at 9 a.m.

Student Theatre will meet all the health guidelines put out by Halton Region Public Health, which include lower ratios and capacity, physical distancing, mandatory health screening and enhanced facility cleaning.

The final performances will be filmed, edited and played on-screen.

There will be no live performances.

Burlington Student Theatre Film Festival presents a screening of Matilda and Frozen from Summer Arts Camps.

Two films featuring participants from the summer Student Theatre will be played at the Burlington Student Theatre Film Festival at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

RAINER NOACK with wild lady

Rainer Noack – inspirational leader at the Student Theatre

Tickets are available online. COVID-19 precautions will be in place for each screening.

• Saturday, Sept. 12 – 12 p.m.
• Sunday, Sept. 13 – 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 19 – 12 p.m.

Recreation Fee Assistance
Recreation is for all, regardless of financial situation. Recreation Fee Assistance is funding made available to resident individuals or families who need help to pay for City of Burlington recreation programs.

For more information or to apply, visit burlington.ca/feeassistance. You can also leave a confidential voicemail message at 905-335-7738, ext. 8501 and our staff will return your call to assist you.

As residents continue to rediscover many of their favourite spaces and activities in the city, City services may look different as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The City’s commitment to providing the community with essential services remains a priority.

Chris Glenn

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation Services

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation Services points out that “Student Theatre has a great history of working with our youth and giving them not only a fun time, but also opportunities for them to grow. As with every program we’re offering, things will look a bit different but will still be filled with friendly faces and high-quality service.”

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Public school board trustees hold their session in the Board room - six trustees take part.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 8th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It started as 1-1 conversations that Andrea Grebenc had with trustees on the virtual meetings the Halton District School Board was holding.
Grebenc thought it was time to hold meetings that took place in the Board room and not have all the participants communicating from their keyboards and cameras.

Grebenc frown

The technology at the School Board Board Room was at times not up to the demands of a meeting that was live and local for some and virtual for others – they made it work.

Once she had canvassed the 13 trustees she met with Director of Education Stuart Miller to look into the possibility of moving back into the Board room.

The question was brought up at an Agenda Review meeting early in August.

“We had to find out if public health regulations would allow us back into the building and how it would restrict us.

“Once we received guidelines from staff and reviewed them, we had a short conversation about it in private session.  That resulted in  the outline of a plan to see about moving forward. The limitations,  physically and technologically, were known.  I then posted a sign-up sheet for the first regular board meeting on September 2.”

Roche xx

Trustee Rocha

Trustees Gerrits, Gray, Rocha, Shuttleworth, Vice Chair Ehl Harrison and Grebenc were there as well as Director Miller.

“We were limited by the board room technology in the room right now as it is hardwired to our desks (which are not even a metre apart. The two cameras would not be able to capture everyone because of the social distancing.

“We settled on six as the maximum number of Trustees to take part.”

However after the first run Grebenc is looking at being in the Board room a little differently.

“There were some problems – but after last week’s pilot, that may be reduced as we had some difficulties with feedback and mics not working properly.

“Bringing the Board room up to the different technical standard was not something we wanted to do. The limited resources (yes, we spend a lot of money – but there is never enough to go around) result in our deciding not to funnel  resources from the classrooms and central administration to expedite the technology changes needed for 13 people (11 Trustees & 2 Student Trustees) who are still able to meet and complete their work online. We felt it was  more important to have the whole system focused on student and staff safety and the learning environments.

grebenc 3

Ear buds were driving her frantic – the six screen she had to keep an eye on made it a busy meeting.

“No worries – we will get there – it is just not a top priority – nor should it be.

“We are following the public health guidelines that were created for the board office. Facilities staff have measured out and designated places we are able to sit to meet the guidelines. There is hand sanitizer available in several places and masks as well. Washrooms are now single person. There are arrows directing us around, etc.

“Personally, I have to say that my set-up at home was a lot easier as I had my three monitors to work with (2 personally owned monitors and my board laptop) and didn’t have to wear the truly uncomfortable (verging on painful) earbuds.

“There are quite a number of screens that I need to use for the meeting to run smoothly:

voting screen,
voting responses,
request to speak form,
speaker’s list,
the google meet screen itself for the meeting,
email for emergency notifications (when someone is having technical issues like getting kicked off.

“The regulation is still in place that would allow the board meetings to happen remotely, so if we have to, we can function completely at a distance again. We are going to be in the board room again on the 16th and probably every meeting going forward.

Gray

Trustee Gray

“As for a public gallery, no. At this time, we are not opening the gallery to the public, but are continuing to live-stream and record board meetings as usual. We do not have any broadcast of the Google meeting available in the board room due to sound feedback issues, so the public would have to sit in the room with earphones watching on a personal device to have access to what everyone is saying – people might as well be doing that at home as there is nothing special going on in the room itself.

“We don’t even talk amongst ourselves in the room because we have to watch our screens and wear the earbuds to hear what is going on.

“We don’t have barriers between us physically in the room, but it sure feels that way socially.”

What is really interesting is that it was the Board of Education that was the first to edge forward a little bit and have at least some of the trustees in the room while conducting public business.

If Burlington city council wanted to come out of their closet as it were they could do so easily – there are just seven members of Council – there are 13 trustees plus two student trustees.
.

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Significant funding to build social purpose organizations available through Burlington Foundation,

News 100 yellowBy Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Helping Business be a Successful Tool for Social, Cultural and Environmental Change is the theme behind the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) which is a $50M national initiative led by Community Foundations of Canada and funded by the Government of Canada to help social purpose organizations (non-profits, charities, co-operatives, hybrid social enterprises, and mission-focused for-profits) go from great ideas to investment ready.

Organizations have the potential to receive from $10,000 to $100,000 in non-repayable capital to develop their enterprise.

Community Foundation Get ReadyApplications for the second and final round of funding will be accepted starting 9 a.m. EST Tues. Sept. 8th until Fri. Oct. 9th, 2020

Burlington Foundation is excited to be a local partner in the Brant | Halton | Peel Partnership (made up of six Community Foundations, Sheridan College and EDGE), with the partnership allocating $715,000 in Round 1 funding to 23 social purpose organizations impacting our local communities.

As we’ve acutely seen in 2020, it is vitally important to have healthy and thriving social purpose organizations, which will also be key in Canada’s recovery efforts as we #BuildBackBetter. Through the IRP, together, we’re helping to build more resilient, sustainable and inclusive communities.

Comm foundatio Click here graphic

 

 

 

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HDSB may have to pull as much as $8 million from the Reserve accounts.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

HDSB may have to pull as much as $8 million from the Reserve accounts. Director is OK with that – no sense yet as to how the trustees are going to react.

The Halton District School Board trustees were given a close and disturbing look at just how big the COVID-19 financial hole was going to be. It was not a pretty picture.

financia updated

 

The financial story for the Halton District School Board is far from complete.  The $12.4 million in COVID funding came from the provincial and federal government.  The drill down on what those funds are going to be used for is set out in the table below.

funding

Here is how you spend $12.4 million.

 

covid exp

The above are expenses the board expects to incur when schools open on the -14th

The spending priorities as the Board sees them at this point are shown in the table below.   There are a tasks that still have to be fully costed – at this point they are at $9.6 million

spending prioities

The Board has $40 million in reserves.  Those funds are set aside for specific projects and a source of funds for unexpected situations.  The COVID-19 virus was one of those.  The Board is going to have to pull about $4 million from the reserves to cover the immediate expenses.  This is not something they can do without permission from the province.  School boards across the province were given permission to use up to 2% of their reserves on COVID related expenses.

Board administrators have not yet asked the trustees to approve the spending – they are just telling the trustees that this is the way they see the finances working out.  The HDSB may find itself having to take that 2% from the reserves which amounts to $8 million, which Director Miller said he “is OK with”.

What was of interest was the question Director of Education Stewart Miller put to the trustees on deficits and what they had in the way of a comfort level.

Miller told the trustees that budget shortfalls and the use of reserves are as much a philosophical question as it is a financial matter. What Miller doesn’t have to deal with are tax payers who look askance at increases in their tax bill.  That is the ire that falls upon trustees.

What Miller has to cope with are trustees who do their home work and press the Director for details and teach him how to find efficiencies.

Collard and Miller

If looks could kill – the Director was toast. Amy Collard, Ward 5 Trustee holding the Director of Education to account during the high school closing discussions.

Up until very recently Ward 5 Trustee Amy Collard was the only trustee prepared to and capable of going toe to toe with Miller.

In the past year the Chair, Andrea Grebenc, has gotten stronger and may now be at the point where she can bear down a little harder on the Director and ask awkward questions of some of the Superintendents.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Trustee chair listening to what Director of Education thinks on an issue.

The Chair of the School Board is a job that doesn’t pay very much and for the most part amounts to following staff recommendations. It is a job that takes time to learn – and things can get very sticky if the Chair is having problems – all too often they have to look to the Director of Education for guidance. The biggest job trustees have is hiring and holding the Director to account. It takes several terms as Chair to get to the point where he or she is independent enough to fill the role.

Grebenc showed some of her mettle with the two letters she sent the Ministry of Education; the second had a certain edge to it.  Ms Grebenc may soon be ready for a higher level of office.  She is the Trustee for Ward 3 – that ward could use a voice like the one Grebenc is developing.

Someone to keep an eye on.

Related background articles:

First Grebenc letter to the Minister of Education

Second Grebenc letter to the Minister of Education

Letters from the Board are sent on behalf of the Board

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Rib Fest at Burlington Centre still very much a go - open till 7 this evening.

eventsred 100x100By Staff

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When asked how they were coping with the weather – which wasn’t all that good while the folks setting up the Labour Day Rib Fest at Burlington Centre  (formerly the Mall) they came back with:

“For now, we are all set up and ready to go. Hopefully the weather cooperates for us. So it is very much a go.”

If the Rotarians can do the hustle when things looked doubtful at 7 in the morning – the least the rest of us can do is get into the car and make a point of picking up some of those Ribs.

Map Sept 2020

 

Entrance to the event will be off  Fairview this time – look for the directional signs – they will be everywhere.

Jay Bridle, Canada’s Largest Ribfest Co-Chair described the event this way:

“We are excited to keep our Labour Day tradition of delivering delicious ribs & fantastic entertainment live during these challenging times” says Brent Paszt, a Past President of Rotary Burlington Lakeshore, and Co-Chair of Canada’s Largest Ribfest. “While the event may look different from what we are all used to seeing, you can still expect award-winning BBQ Teams to be on hand serving the ribs, pulled pork, and chicken that guests have come to expect from Ribfest” added

“Canceling our annual long weekend event that attracts upwards of 175,000 guests was a huge disappointment and really impacted our ability to support those charities and individuals who need it most, now more than ever” says Rotary Burlington Lakeshore President, Jay Thomblison; “Proceeds from this event, along with those generated from our successful inaugural Canada Day Drive-Thru, will enable us to continue that support”.

Food vendors will take orders and payment (cards preferred) and will deliver each completed order to your vehicle. Gloves and masks will be worn by all staff, vendors, and volunteers.

The four award-winning rib teams in attendance will include Camp 31 BBQ, Billy Bones BBQ, Pistol Pete’s Smokehouse, and Silver Bullet BBQ. There will also be food offerings from East Side Mario’s and Blaze Pizza, Twisted Tomato, Tiny Tom Donuts, and Ontario Corn Roasters, ensuring that there’s something for the entire family. The event will also include live music for guests to enjoy while they wait in the comfort and safety of their vehicles.

Over the course of 24 years, Canada’s Largest Ribfest, a fundraising initiative of Rotary Burlington Lakeshore, has raised over $4.5 million for local, national, and international charities.

 

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St. Matthews takes a break on Labour Day

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They have been collecting food and passing it along to the agencies that have a client base that needs it.

They won’t be open this Monday.

Not Monday-Last Backpack

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Together they got it done - 300 Back Packs that will be proudly worn when school opens

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

September 5th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Thousands of students will be trooping back to school – some will not have a shiny new backpack filled with the things needed at school.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal but for the kid with no backpack – it can be devastating.

Those of you who have been there understand.

book packers Burlington Together 2

This is what goes into 300 Back Packs.

Burlington together logoBurlington Together, a group that is steered by Beth Martin Snooker, pulled together a group earlier today and packed supplies into 300 Back Packs – no small feat.

Snooker ensured that mentions are made and sponsors recognized.

“A HUGE thank you to everyone who volunteered at St. Christopher’s this week and at the backpack program today. We prepped over 300 backpacks to help kids be ready for heading back to school! Thank you also to everyone who donated backpacks, school supplies, sanitizer, masks, toys and general good vibes!

“MASSIVE thanks to community partners Open Doors of St. Christopher’s, Food4Kids Halton and Compassion Society of Halton.” A special shout out to Mike McMillan for his donation of over 70 hand sanitizers this afternoon! And a huge thank you to Bill Leggitt and the Rotary Club of Burlington North who gave us a very generous donation which we used to fill the gaps in needed items.

book packers Burlington Together 1

These are the ‘packers’ – some spent most of the day getting the job done.

“Thanks to Corrine Batchelor for the donations of toys and games for the JK/SK/Gr1 bags. And thanks to Lisa Kearns for the donation of 300 masks and for stopping by with delicious treats for the volunteers.

“Thank you to Wellington Square United Church and Burlington Food Bank for sharing your backpack donations with us. Thank you to the Women’s Giving Network for the amazing hygiene kits. Thank you to Umicore Autocat Canada and RCAP Leasing for very generous donations of Walmart gift cards, backpacks and supplies. Thank you to Staples Canada store #14 for your donations of backpacks and supplies!

“Special shout outs to Christina Mulder for rocking this program, Julie Lansley who helped us ALL DAY today, volunteers Nick, Andrea & Danny, Adria, Melanie, Jess, Christine, Lisa D, Jackie B (all day!!), Lisa F, Marie, Gwen, Carmela, Sandi, Judy, Sandra, Michelle, Charlene, and Nick. I’m so sorry if I’ve missed you, it was a long day!

“As usual, NONE of this could have been accomplished without YOU, so my eternal thanks for your community generosity.”

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Back to school: Did you register properly and can you change your mind.

News 100 redBy Staff

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Deciding to send your children back to school has been an anxious exercise for most parents.

parent with child - directing

Deciding what is right for your child – and changing your mind later.

It has been a challenge for school board staff who have to figure out how many students will be taught in a classroom and how many will be taught virtually.

Will there be split classes – possibly was what trustees learned earlier this week.  They were assured that there would not be any three different grades in a single classroom.

Where is the wiggle room for parents who have not yet made up their minds or who want to change their minds.

Parents can change their minds: The last day to switch between in-person and virtual learning is Tuesday, September 8. You must call the school and advise the principal.

Every school goes through a bit of a re-organization during the second half of September – there is sometimes a need to move students around to balance the load.

The opportunity to change a delivery model (i.e., in-person, virtual) will be: November 30 or end of Term 1 (mid-February).

For Secondary students (Grade 9 – 12) the time to change delivery model (i.e., in person, virtual) will be aligned with the end of quadmesters: November 12 or February 5.

School office staff will follow up with every family who has not completed the survey as the survey requires parents/guardians to complete the Self-Assessment Acknowledgement form (part of the survey).

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School bus challenges - the service will be stretched to the limit

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

School buses and Covid-19 are just one more worry for parents.

Sitting together on a school bus makes social distancing almost a silly idea.

School buses

Will the school boards be able to set up bus routes that cope with the need to keep students in their cohort everywhere possible – and will they be able to service every family?

The school board administration, in a partnership they have with the Catholic school board, run the school bus service using rented vehicles.

The routes will be quite a bit different and the students will be organized as cohorts – they will ride the bus with the students they are in a classroom with.

It is a logistical challenge and at this point the Board administration is not certain that they will be able to provide service to every household.

There will be no school bus service for the elementary students who will be at school on either Thursday or Friday of next week for their dry run at what a school day is going to look like.

Parents might want to think of ride sharing – and figuring out how to work within cohorts.

That phrase – we are all in this together – will take on much more meaning in the weeks ahead.

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Dry run for elementary students Thursday and Friday of next week

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Halton District School Board Elementary students will get to do a dry run on returning to school next week – the “letting students experience” a return to classroom takes place on Thursday the 10th and Friday the 11th.

Those students with family names that begin with A through to those whose family name begins with L will go to their school on Thursday the 10th.

student being hand sanitized

The Halton District School Board has a secure supply of PPE

They will be met at the school door, have their hands sanitized and get a face mask test to ensure the thing is being worn correctly.

Then they are taken to their class and given instruction on how school will operate for the foreseeable future.

Parents will not be allowed to enter the school.

On Friday, those students with family names that begin with M through to the end of the alphabet, will go through the same routine.

There will be no curriculum taught on those days.

Nor will there be school bus service to the schools.

Director of Education Stuart Miller asked parents to be patient and careful as they approach the school entrance.

desk spacing

Classroom spacing will be different. No passing notes from desk to desk.

The focus will be to teach them the importance of staying within their cohort and “exposing them to the new reality”.

The Board is working at making video material available to parents so they can prep their children for these introductory sessions.

outdoor exercise

Teachers are encouraged to get students outside as much as possible and to ensure that they stay within their cohort.

There will be washroom rules, recess rules, lunch rules and exercise outdoors rules.

Walking around the school will not be what it was when they left school in March. There will be direction markers along the hallways.

Intent to Return Survey

Parents/guardians (and students 18+) were asked to complete the Intent to Return survey by Aug. 23.  If you have not completed the survey, or if you have completed the survey and would like to change your response(s), please contact the main office at your child’s school. The last day to switch between in-person and virtual learning is Tuesday, Sept. 8.

 

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Tents as classrooms - not in Halton

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Remember that idea of holding classes outdoors? Some people were thinking year round outdoor classes.

It didn’t get very far at the Trustee meeting this week.

tent classroom

School Board administration found all kinds of reasons for killing the idea of using tents as classrooms.

Trustee Chair Andrea Grebenc raised the thoughts about fundraising for tents that would be used for outdoor classrooms.

They didn’t get very far.

In order to be at all useful – the tent would have to be quite big.

What would go into the tent? And who would be responsible for the cleaning and safety of whatever was placed in the tent?

There would be some vandalism.

In order to put a tent in place the Board would have to get a permit from the city – just the way they have to with portable classrooms.
Insurance and liability issues also had to be figured out.

The killer issue was that parents cannot fundraise for anything related to student accommodation.

That idea was off the table.

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Director of Education: 'these students are our responsibility – my responsibility when they are on school property'

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 2nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is still a lot of confusion on the part of parents as well as many of the teachers.

But come Tuesday of next week you will be taking your young ones to school – assuming you didn’t opt out for a virtual classroom.

Your job as a parent begins today: students – especially younger ones will need help in coping with the really big change that will take place at every school.

Parent talking covid

Explain to your child what will be different when they return to school – and why things are going to be different.

The Halton Board of Education will be meeting this evening; we will report on what we learn – expect updates on a number of issues.

Let’s stick with the bricks and mortar structure. There will be one door to enter and a different door to leave the building.

Don’t have the child take very much to school the first day – the rules on what elementary students can bring to school will be set out for them by a teacher who will be dressed in full PPE – which might be a little startling for the student.

There will be a lot of rules and as a parent you can do a lot of the prep work in the next handful of days.

Take your younger children to places where there are markers on the floor and explain what they mean and why they are in place.

Explain why they have to wear a mask and why they can only play with the friends in their class.

And that they can’t get too close to those friends.

social circles graphic

Explain what social circles are and how that might limit who your child can actually play with.

The job for parents of early elementary children:

• Tighten up social circles
• Practice physical distancing
• Follow good hand hygiene and respiratory
etiquette
• Wear face coverings in indoor public places and when physical distancing cannot be maintained
• Explain to the child that at some point what that means.

Miller with students Mar 7-17

Director of Education Stuart Miller sees himself as personally responsible for every student in the HDSB

Schools are doing their best to keep parents fully informed – the difficulty is that the rules change – sometimes by the hour.

The Board of Education has to listen to what the Halton Region Public Health Units requires and follow the dictates of the province.

Halton District School Board Director of Education sets out just what he has to deal with – “everything is fluid and dynamic”. “We have to be smart, be focused and realize these students are our responsibility – my responsibility when they are on school property.”

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Medical Officer of Health doesn't make the rules - she interprets and enforces them

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Dr. Hamidah K. Meghani told the several thousand people who logged into the Virtual Town Hall last week: “We’re here for you!”

Dr Meghani is a Commissioner with the Region of Halton and the Medical Office of Health.

She is a parent with children; has called Oakville home for more than seven years.

HM Big smile

Dr. Hamidah K. Meghani is a Commissioner with the Region of Halton and the Medical Office of Health.

Born in India, Meghani’s family immigrated to Canada when she was a child. She said she remembers seeing the impact of poverty on people in India and learning from her parents the importance of helping those in need. She credits these early experiences with helping to guide her to a career in public health.

She completed a Masters of Public Health in Family and Reproductive Health at Columbia University in New York City.  She is a certified family physician, has completed training in public health and preventative medicine and is a Fellow with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

During much of 2011, Meghani interned at Halton Region under former MOH Dr. Bob Nosal, who she succeeded after his 25 years in the role.

 She was previously an Associate Medical Officer of Health in Hamilton,

The incoming MOH earned her medical degree from McMaster University in 2007 and did her residency at the University of Toronto, spending two years at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The pandemic we are dealing with is what she spends every waking hour of every day focused on.

It is not the job she thought she had when she was hired from the city of Hamilton a number of years ago – but it is the job she has learned to do and at this point is doing as well as anyone can expect.

The Regional Councillors can’t lay enough praise at the woman’s feet.

The public, especially parents with children in school, aren’t quite as positive. They are anxious and at some levels confused.

Meghani doesn’t make the rules. Her job is to interpret the rules to the best of her ability and do her level best to ensure that the public is safe.

When the province imposed a lock down on everyone and the public health units began to get reports of people infected with the Covid-19 virus the Public Health Unit had to find or create resources to meet the challenge.

On balance the Region of Halton has been spared when looked at on a per capita basis.

The geography helps – we don’t have any pockets of dense population and few people were going to their offices.

That is expected to change when students are back in school and parents begin to go back to their offices.

There was a tragic outburst at a long term care home in Halton Hills where 11 lives were lost. That location was a private operation with a solid reputation.

Hamida + in HAmilton event.

One of the first public briefings Dr. Meghani took part in was a learning experience. She grew into that part of the job – but prefers to work at a distance (this was her mode of operation well before Covid-19) Here she supports Hamilton Health Sciences physician-in-chief Dr. Barry Lumb provides details after an oncologist at Juravinski Cancer Centre has tested positive for coronavirus. |

Halton has four long term care homes run by the Region – there has not been one reported infection at any of the four locations – someone was doing something right.

The major early challenge for the Public Health units was learning how to quickly identify those thought to be infected and have them tested. In the early stages that at times took days and then a few more days to get the results back.

At that point any attempt to trace where the infection may have come from was close to wasted time.

It was several months before the Public Health Unit could get its hands on software that would allow almost instant tracking.

Today when a person is identified as infected the Public Health Unit is able to reach out and be in touch with every person the infected individual might have been with or near.

There is now a team in place that is on top of the tracking that has to be done.

Meghani’s current challenge is to assuage the concerns of parents and convince them that the safest place for their children is in a classroom.

While the numbers are decent – said to be at the 80% level – there are communities in the province where the response is above the 90% level.

The Board has yet to – and probably won’t – release accurate numbers. Their job is to get every child who is normally healthy into a classroom.

Meghani’s job is to help convince those parents that their children will be safe. And that if there is an outbreak in a school there are protocols and procedures in place to ensure that any hot spot is quickly and effectively isolated.

Meghani told the Virtual Town Hall that she and her team have “ been working together with the board at every step of the way through this planning process and we’re confident that we will be able to provide a safe and productive learning environment for students and staff.”

Parent talking covid

Explaining Covid and its implications to your children is a lot easier than the sex ed conversation you had.

She asked parents to: “Think about your child’s needs”

Does your child have:
• Special learning needs?
• Any medical conditions that may make them prone to severe disease if they get COVID-19?

Talk with your child’s doctor to discuss the risks.

So far, she explained, most children infected with the virus experience mild symptoms.

• Fever
• Cough
• Runny Nose
• Sore Throat
• Headache
• Body Ache
• Diarrhea

Many children have mild or no symptoms. Additionally, children account for a small number of COVID-19 cases overall.

Think about the people with whom you live

Most people will develop minor symptoms and recover on their own.
The risk of severe illness and outcomes is higher for those who are over 70, or who have chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or cancer.

Every family is unique

Decisions around heading back to school will be different for every family depending on:
• their child’s academic needs
• whether their child or household members are at increased risk of severe illness
• the family’s unique situation

The role of Public Health

Setting out what the role of Public Health is during a pandemic should really be: we do what has to be done when it needs to be done and prepare as well as we can for something that is new to everyone.

Work with the school board to ensure measures are in place to protect our students:

• active daily screening
• no mixing of cohorts (or classes) in the elementary years
• ensuring children understand how to properly wear face coverings or masks
• enhanced hand hygiene and cleaning

covid virus

An illustration of what the covid19 virus is believed to look like

Support development of safe school reopening plans

Provide recommendations and resources to help school boards and private schools develop policies and procedures, adhere to infection prevention and control practices and plan measures to ensure the health and safety of staff, students, parents/guardians and visitors.

• Support training and educational opportunities
• Develop processes and protocols for managing sick students and staff
• Develop guidance around managing a confirmed case and an outbreak
• Ensure schools have child-friendly resources that support healthy behaviours.

The biggest tool we have working for us is our own individual behaviour.  Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and maintain a safe social distance.  That little bugger of a virus wants to jump all over you.

If you want to know more about just how the virus does what it does – check out the link below.  If your high school student child has an interest in science – pass it on.

How the virus gets inside you.

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Grandparents now find they have a new, much appreciated role.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

September 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Grandparents are suddenly in demand.  They are going to have the grandchildren closer to them that they have for some time.

Many parents have turned to their parents for support.

However, there are some grandparents, for a whole host of reasons, don’t get to see the grandchildren for that precious “face time”.  The Canadian Association of Retired People has put together a list that can help grandparents establish a stronger relationship with children they aren’t able to see as much as they would like to.

grandfather boy tablet

Is that boy teaching his grandfather to use that big tablet?

Learn to use Facetime or Skype on your phone or computer so you can watch a show or movie on one while video chatting on the other simultaneously.

Set up specific times to visit online so your grandchildren have those to look forward to—kids like and need structure in these “covid-irregular” times.

Do simple fitness activities like chair yoga, stretches, walking on the spot etc. together, electronically.

Schedule shows, movies and other programs you will watch together and chat about, e.g. start watching a TV show or movie at the same time and chat on another device while watching, or after, so it’s a shared experience. If you only have phone access, watch the movie or TV ahead of time and then discuss.

Help your grandchildren write fun letters and take photos to send to other relatives.

Read a book to them over the phone or online.

grandparent - boy ballons

Who is wearing the biggest smile – and who made the bslloon set up?

Ask them to make collections (such as similar toys, or old photos or other household handy items) as a sort of a Treasure Hunt.

Download books for a virtual age-appropriate book club discussion.

Listen to music with them and have them explain their music preferences to you.

If they are older, ask them to do errands like shopping for you (if they are nearby). Make them feel wanted and useful.

Show an interest and help with their school work.

Ask about and discuss their world of sports, e.g. what they are missing and how they think their favourite sports will rebound when the pandemic is under control.

Send your grandchildren a parcel every other week. You could include a craft to be done together with a parent, some ‘homework ‘ fun pages, homemade cookies, etc. Never send them the same day; keep them wondering when it will arrive and don’t tell when or what is in it.

Share recipes by texting pictures back and forth of what you have created. Make it a fun contest on baking/cooking a variety of different things.

Write down a favourite made-up story and share it as you would a book. Works for both kids and grandparents who have been in the habit of making up stories.

Watch the online kitchen parties that are full of singing and dancing together and showing support for front-line workers and support staff.

Watch them together by telephone or online.

grandparents - child running

A scene that was repeated several million times when the lock in came to an end.

A close colleague with strong views on social distancing has decided that he and his wife will home school their two grandchildren.  They live in a rural setting where there are all kinds of things that can be done outside.

Both have experience teaching – something they acquired when they travelled the world and were able to spend some time with children in different countries.  He taught younger people how to play a guitar and then left the one he brought with them as a gift.

She is an artist and worked with the younger people helping them write a short book and then illustrate it.  It was a chance to teach English and Art at the same time.

We will look in on these two once classes actually start.

 

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Students return to school September 14th - 20% will attend virtual classes. Part 3 of a series

News 100 blueMichele Bogle

August 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

In this segment of an ongoing series the article addresses continuing concerns as well as new ones. All of the staff and parents in this series have signed the “Intent to Return” Survey. The group participating is mixed with regard to whether their child is ‘distance learning’ or returning to school.

The participants in this series are real. Their names have been changed to preserve their identity.

Region MoH Meghani

Dr. Hamida Meghani, – Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Halton – in the most stressful job of her career.

We’ve learned from Halton Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Meghani, that the Health Protection and Promotion Act, requires a member of a household who tests test positive for the virus must self-isolate for 14 days.

Last Wednesday, at a virtual Town Hall, we learned that 16,000 have chosen distance learning over classroom attendance.

The Board is now scrambling to create three elementary and one secondary, virtual schools which calls for a significant deployment of teaching staff.   The virtual schools will follow the traditional curriculum for both elementary and secondary students.

There were no specifics in the outline during last Wednesday’s town meeting with regard to Special Education classes. Details that were needed earlier than the August 23 deadline, in order for parents to decide whether their child returns or not. Grace Penny and her husband adopted two elementary aged children who require additional attention. Because of the lack of planning to make an informed choice she and her husband have opted to keep their children home. Grace added that there is a great financial burden associated with keeping their special needs children home. A decision, not made lightly. She continues that there is separate funding but that their combined income excludes them from qualifying.

Special Education Teacher Paul Pratt had questions about the use of shields instead of masks. Are there funds being allocated for these ‘in person’ students who are no longer sharing materials? Will the teachers be asked to use the materials that they have already purchased for their students and will they be reimbursed?

What will the ratio of EA’s be in these classes to meet needs in the new scenario? Superintendent Podrebarac spoke of “a host of choices” for protective gear but didn’t specify.

Blackwell and Miller at itsem Nov 2018

Superintendent Terri Blackwell with Director of Education Stuart Miller at the original registration for the iStem program at Aldershot high school.

Superintendent Blackwell addressed the subject of transportation in last Wednesday’s meeting. Each school bus would now be loaded to capacity, potentially three to a seat. While windows can be opened until the onset of colder weather, without the spacing earlier suggested, would the wind from the open windows blowing air directly into faces not much more than two feet behind in each row pose a health risk?

In this same meeting ventilation was addressed within the schools. For some older schools the standard code was for a class window to only open four inches for the safety of the children, when built. For some, like the classroom Sandra Parker taught in, there were no windows. This poses great concern for many of her colleagues and for those of Maria Vanelli’s.

Some teachers like Maria have a ‘high risk’ family member at home and have opted for virtual teaching. An answer to which would give her and her family great comfort in knowing if the Board will accommodate her.

Mila Sanchez and her husband, parents of two elementary aged girls, grades two and four works outside of the home. They are unable to find after school care for their children, a problem shared by many of their friends.

Grade school wearing masks

The carpets will not be on the floors in Halton schools – those toys would be sanitized after every class,

Elementary school teacher Maria Vanelli discussed that she was pleased about the new decision to have students in grades 1-3 wear masks. She suggested that parents might want to practice with their kids before the start date, 10 minutes a day gradually increasing the time. It would be of great help to the teachers. Her final thoughts, “Goes to show how COVID is affecting all aspects of life , from education to shortage of caregivers to added stress on all of us.”

Library Information Technician Carmen White would like everyone to keep in mind that, “It’s going to be scary for everyone and we need to realize that people deal with all of this differently and we need to be KIND to each other. Reality is, there isn’t the space, teachers or money for smaller classes, so we need to do the best we can.”

I hear an unyielding sense of frustration from parents and teachers. The Board has no easy task and no perfect plan, and not enough money to make it all right.

Michele BogleMichele Bogle is a Burlington resident who writes for the Gazette on community issues. She has written several children’s books for ages 4-12, which can be found under the pseudonym, ‘Cameron S. Matthews’. Michele studied journalism from the University of Pennsylvania.

Related news stories in the series:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Last of the free face mask donations to a community group took place recently. Food Bank will get the final lot

News 100 yellowBy Staff

August 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Beth Martin Snook, the mother of two who Created Burlington Caremongers – renamed it Burlington Together and went on to attract 8000 people who became part of a group that worked well together.

She decided to share some group stats. By working together, donating, and connecting this group has been able to do amazing things! Cannot wait to see what we can do together in the future.

Beth martin Snook graphic

Impressive stats – no matter how you look at them.

The people who took part in what started out as a Gazette initiative and soon grew to the point where a team of about 30 people got involved in the cutting of cloth to be made into masks, then making the masks , then preparing them for delivery to various community groups including two city Councillors.

Masks to Fri.NiteCommFood Bag croppedConnie Price, right and Penny Hersh, left with Lisa Lunski do the handover of the last batch of the more than 3,000 masks that were made.

What was particularly interesting was the way in which the design and fabrication of the masks changed as new people got involved and added their skill sets and experience.

Jan at sewing machine

Jan Mowbray at her bias binding-making machine stitching together the ties used in early versions of the face masks. City Councillor Shawna Stolte with her daughter wearing masks from the Gazette initiative.

Shawna and daughter

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Region to get retired nurses to help out with spotting early signs of an infected student or teacher

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The province announced that 500 +/- nurses would be hired to assist the return of students to school.

nurse hat

Every retired nurse in the province is going to want to take a closer look at this opportunity.

What wasn’t at all clear at the time was who would actually do the hiring: the schools – they didn’t think so.  The Regions – probably but they were still working their way through the document they got from the province and working out terms and conditions.

Meanwhile every retired nurse in the province who can find their little white cap with the black stripe would be lining up for what looked like an easy assignment.

NURSE CROPPED best

Not enough to put a nurse in every school but there should be enough to create a core of nurses at each Public Health Unit who can respond quickly.

In its statement Halton Region set out what they expected – subject to a firm agreement in place of course.

Expected roles for School Health Nurses

Support existing school health and communicable disease control programs in public health by:

• Providing support to school boards and schools in the development and implementation of COVID-19 health and safety plans
• Providing sector specific support for:
• Infection prevention and control
• Surveillance, screening and testing
• Outbreak management; and
• Case and contact management
• Supporting communication and engagement with parents and local communities, as well as the broader health care sector.

With schools actually re-opening on the 14th – there will be enough time to get the nurses hired and train them for the task that will last until the end of the year.

The question in the air is – will there be a second wave and will Halton see very much in the way of infections?.

A school board just outside Montreal where schools opened last week reported a teacher who was found to be infected on the first day back in classrooms.  Isolation for all the children she was teaching along with her own social circle.

nurse announcement ALL

The provincial announcement was made late in July.

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