Halton Regional Police Service now equipped with ClearMasks™

News 100 yellowBy Staff

August 12th, 2020


The wearing of face coverings/masks is known to pose a significant barrier to the Deaf community, as masks make it harder to lip read and understand sign language.

To better serve the demographics of our community, while continuing to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, Halton Regional Police Service officers are now equipped with ClearMasks™.

Police - with mask“Our ability to communicate with the members of our community is absolutely essential,” says Halton Regional Police Service Deputy Chief Roger Wilkie. “With guidance and input from the Bob Rumball Canadian Centre of Excellence for the Deaf, we have now removed a significant communications barrier.”

“By introducing ClearMasksTM within Halton Regional Police Service, anyone from the Deaf community can now have more accessible dialogue with police officers,” says Jayne Leang, Director of Business Relations at the Bob Rumball Canadian Centre of Excellence for the Deaf.

“In an emergency situation, allowing a person who is Deaf or hard-of-hearing the opportunity to see the officer’s facial expression or attempt to read their lips, helps in the exchange of potentially life-saving information.”

These Health Canada-approved masks feature a transparent window, allowing the mouth to be fully protected, while fully visible, for those who use speech reading, lip reading or who are profoundly deaf and use American Sign Language, which is heavily dependent on facial expressions

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HDSB gets ready for the return of students in September - how many will actually show up is not clear

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 11th, 2020



It was the end of a long week – with the week ahead not looking all that much better.


Director of Education Stuart Miller is being pressed on all sides – the situation he faces is far more challenging that the closure of two high schools.

Stuart Miller and his team are bushed. They have been given their marching orders by the province; they now have to make it happen with what they have.

Every elementary student will be in their home classroom – teachers will come to them; the students will take recess and lunch together and not mix or mingle with other students. In some grades they will be asked to wear masks.

There are likely to be some classes that will have in excess of 25 students – some report that there will be classes with 30 students – when you add the teacher and the EA that is a pretty full room making it difficult to stick to the six foot apart rule.

It is going to be a challenge to keep the different classes apart come recess and lunch – a scheduling nightmare.

The secondary students will do a day in a classroom – just 15 in the class, the following day they will work from hone on-line where they will be taught synchronously by their teacher.

Parents who are concerned about the safety of their children, teachers who are apprehensive and an HR department that needs to make sure they have access to supply teachers who may have to replace classroom teachers who decide they do not want to be in classrooms.

Cleaners - schools

The clean ups at every school will be very through and very frequent.

Custodial people have to be hired as well.

The teachers were sent a 79 page document setting out the way the school board administration expects things to work in a situation that is both dynamic and fluid.

Parents will be getting a document with much of the same information on Monday and are asked to let the Board of Education know what they plan to do with their children.

“Some parents won’t get back to us” said Miller. “We will have principals at the schools calling those parents to find out what they want to do.

“We also have number of households who have more than one student going to high school. That will mean each student having access to a laptop computer which for some families may not be in their budget.

The Board will ensure that everyone has what they need to be able to take part on those half days when high school students are being taught synchronously as a class on-line.

There will also be some students who will attend a class within the school due to limitations they have with on-line learning.

The teachers doing the online teaching will do so from the schools – perhaps not from the actual classroom but their base will be the school.

Nelson High crest

The upgrade at Nelson high school meant to accommodate the students transferring out of Bateman has been delayed – keeping students in their old school.

Delays at Nelson high school where additions are underway to accommodate the transfer of students from Bateman high school to Nelson – with Bateman to be closed at some future date – will be delayed due to construction issues that resulted from the shutdown of the site when a worker was tested positive.

The province has budgeted for some 500 nurses who will be available to schools. With 105 schools in the Region and 44 School Districts in the province those nurses are going to be stretched pretty thin.

Exactly what the nurses are going to do is not clear. What is clear to Miller is that he has an excellent working relationship with the Medical Officer of Health, (MOH) Dr Hamid Megani. All the bases will be covered.

The overriding concern is having a procedure in place for those schools where a hot spot turns up. The Board wants to be able to move quickly and isolate any outbreak and ensure that if there is one it is limited to a classroom and not school.

Everyone is working full out on ensuring that they get it right the first time.

Miller, who has been an educator for more than 35 years, said that what he is going through now “is not something they taught us in principal school.”

School buses

How many students in each bus – are there enough buses?

Getting the students to school is another challenge that is being worked on. How many children will be permitted on each bus – will there be enough bus drivers. And how will the bus routes and schedules be worked out. The service is operated by an arm’s length operation that serves both the Separate and Public Boards.

In the past few weeks the number of new infections in the Region have been low – 0 in some days and the MOH has been able to move very quickly tracing who the infected person has met with. That same dexterity will be used to track the students.


Director of Education Stuart Miller facing the biggest challenge of his career – making sure the students he is responsible for educating are safe.

There are dozens of pinch points – the school board administrators believe they have identified all of them but the words “fluid” and “dynamic” are used to describe everything they have to deal with.

There are a lot of “not sure” statements being made. A lot of trepidation on the part of parents, teachers and board administrators.

The public isn’t hearing a word from the trustees.

If the infections in each municipality can be kept low that should be reflected in the school environment.

What happens when parents who have worked from home begin returning to their offices and the colder weather becomes part of everyday life?

We are going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

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A Halton resident has tested positive for West Nile virus - Region doesn't say which municipality

News 100 redBy Staff

August 9th, 2020



A Halton resident has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).

This is the first human case for Halton this year.

This is how the West Nile virus is transmitted..

This is how the West Nile virus is transmitted..

“Halton Region Public Health works diligently to reduce the risk of West Nile virus in our community through both education and preventative programs such as larviciding.

Until the fall frost, Halton residents should continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites and remove mosquito breeding sites,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health.

“While 80 per cent of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms, others will have West Nile fever consisting of fever, headache, muscle ache and a rash. These symptoms are very similar to illnesses such as COVID-19, so it is important for residents who are concerned or experiencing symptoms, to seek medical assessment.”

Residents are encouraged to take the following steps to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

• Urban areas are more likely to have mosquitoes that carry WNV. Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home at least once a week by getting rid of water in containers and objects such as wheelbarrows, tires, plant pots, old toys, plastic pails and wading pools.

• Avoid areas where mosquitoes are known to be present such as wooded areas, golf courses or gardens, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

• If you are going to areas where mosquitoes are active, cover up by wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly woven fabric.

• Use a mosquito repellent (bug spray) containing DEET or Icaridin.

• Make sure your window and door screens are tight and without holes, cuts or other openings.

• Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

If residents see standing water on public property for longer than a week, they can report it to Halton Region by emailing accesshalton@halton.ca or calling 311.

As part of its ongoing West Nile virus surveillance and larviciding program, Halton Region Public Health staff continue to monitor areas of standing water, eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites and apply larvicide when mosquito larvae is found during Regional monitoring and surveillance.

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Joseph Brant hospital has strengths and weaknesses - solid financial management - some slippage on the patient care culture

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 6th, 2020



Hospitals – vital and expensive.

Burlington has had an, at times, awkward relationship to the Joseph Brant Hospital.

It took a long time to get the provincial funding for the upgrade of the older parts of the building and the construction of the new wing.

Former Mayor Rick Goldring got a bit of a shock when he was told by the province that the city was going to have to come up with a large part of the construction cost.


A special tax levy was required to pay for the city’s portion of the hospital – which taxpayers willingly paid.

The amount was so big that the city had to impose a special tax levy to raise the funds – and the public willingly paid that additional tax levy.

The city then found a way to roll that tax levy over into a source of funds for other needed service. The public wasn’t as happy with that little tax trick.

One would have thought the city council at the time would have at least asked – truth be told they really didn’t even come out and tell the taxpayers what they were doing – they just did it.

The Gazette was also the news source that dug out many of the facts relating to the c-dificile tragedy at the hospital that resulted in the deaths of at least 80 people.

Yesterday we published a piece on the experience of two people at different area hospitals: The Joseph Brant, where a woman had an appointment and how she was treated. Then in the same piece, about a male who had an appointment at the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton.

Two very different experiences.

We expect a strong reaction to that article and be accused of picking on the Joseph Brant Hospital. What we were doing was pointing out the different cultural base from which each hospital works.

St. Joseph’s was formed by the Sisters of St. Joseph: nuns who brought a different touch to patient needs.

Burlington’s  Joseph Brant doesn’t have that deep historical cultural commitment that is needed. That culture can be grown – the leadership at the hospital has to show by example how patient care can be done differently.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital CEO is about to tell us what he gets paid annually. He didn't volunteer this information.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall.

The Joseph Brant has done some very fine medicine. Eric Vandewall ensured that the renovation and new build was done close to perfect.

Hospital modular

It was a high end field hospital that went up very quickly – hasn’t been used – yet.

He made the brave decision to spend $2 million on a facility that could be used for any over flow of COVID-19 patients.

The space has not had to be used – yet.

Some will suggest that was $2 million wasted. It wasn’t wasted. Vandewall did what he believed was a prudent decision and we don’t think he was wrong.

Hospital support sign

Telling us how they feel about their hospital.

Burlington has thousands of people who willingly put up a sign on their lawn declaring how much they love their hospital. Nothing wrong with solid civic pride.

What we would like to see is the evolution of a different culture that has people experiencing the care and concern that one person experienced at St. Joseph’s in Hamilton and not the experience a woman had at Joseph Brant.

It can be done but it won’t be done until someone at a very senior level makes the change a personal mission.

Related news stories:

The cute tax trick with the hospital tax levy.

Two different patient experiences

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Two hospitals - both excellent when it comes to the medicine practiced - one just does a better job than the other when it comes to

News 100 redBy Staff

August 5th, 2020



Two people about a decade apart in age – both were on the other side of the 60 line, had very different experiences at area hospitals

Both had experienced significant medical procedures.

One, the female, was a patient at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington.

The other, male, was a patient at the St. Hospital in Hamilton.

Both had gone to their hospitals a day apart this week.

We are not releasing the names – that isn’t the important part of this story. It is about how people are treated and the integrity of the service being given at the two hospitals.


The Joseph Brant Hospital, recently underwent a major overhaul with the addition of a new wing that is clean, and a pleasant place to be if you have to be in a hospital. What needs work now is a change in the culture where the patient is the focus.

The female scheduled an appointment at Joseph Brant Hospital.

She was wearing a mask when she entered the front door.

She was met by a young man who asked the following questions.

– did I have an appointment or was I visiting a patient?
– He asked for my name and if I had travelled out of the country.
– He asked if I had fallen in the last 3 months.

He gave her the form he had completed and told her to give it to the nurse at the appointment.

She then went on her own to the elevators and up to her appointment.

She was not asked for the completed sheet. She asked the nurse at her appointment if she wanted the sheet and her answer was “oh yes”.

After my appointment I left the hospital

The male at St. Joseph’s in Hamilton was quite different.

St Joe in HAmilton

The complex of buildings that makes up St. Joseph’s in Hamilton is big, very big – easy to get confused. Patient service though was very good.

He was stopped as he entered the hospital by a young lady holding a clip board.

“Where do you want to go”, she asked.

The male said he was going to the urology unit for an appointment.

He was asked if he had travelled outside the province; asked if he had been in contact with people who were later advised that they had been infected in the last 14 days.

He was asked if he had a high temperature in the past three days.

He was asked if the face mask he was wearing had been washed before he put it on that morning.

The male said it was not clean that morning – but it was clean the afternoon of the day before.

The attendant said take the mask off and wear this and handed the male a new mask.

The male was asked for a telephone number he where he could be reached and then asked if he was comfortable giving the attendant an email address.

With that done the attendant put a green sticker on the shoulder of the shirt he was wearing and was told not take it off and to follow the attendant to the floor of the hospital the appointment was on.

He was told to pay attention to the path that was taken and, when leaving, to take that same path and leave by the hospital entrance he had used coming in.

When the male completed the appointment he returned to the main floor where the attendant approached him, took the green sticker off his shoulder and suggested he sanitize his hands and bid him a “good day” but not before advising the male that he should put on a washed mask in the morning of each day and to replace it with a clean one in the afternoon – and to wash his hands frequently.

Was one hospital “better” than the other?  That’s not the issue – how people are treated is a reflection of the culture of the institution.

Cultural change comes from the leadership.  There is some work to be done.

Related editorial content

What the Joseph Brant hospital does very well

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Transit service is shifting gears and improving service now that the province is at Stage 3.

News 100 blueBy Staff

August 5th, 2020



It is good news – even if it is going to take some coin out of your pocket.

Starting September 1, Burlington Transit will be collecting fares on all Burlington Transit buses. Pay your fares using a PRESTO card.

If you are a SPLIT customer, you can pick up your SPLIT pass starting August 19, at the Downtown Terminal, 430 John St. One customer will be allowed in the building at a time. You may want to add extra time for COVID-19 measures.


Re-opens on August 19th, limited service – need a mask on to get in the door – one person at a time.

Downtown Terminal Re-Opens August 19, 2020
Burlington Transit’s Downtown Terminal, 430 John St., is reopening on Aug. 19, 2020 with limited services. The Terminal will be open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

We are following provincial and City COVID-19 safety procedures. Please work with us to keep everyone safe and:

• Wear a mask,
• Use hand sanitizer often and
• Give us your name and phone number for contact tracing
We are offering:
• SPLIT Passes
• ePurse Loads
• Free Seniors Pass
• Lost & Found

Right now, we are not selling:

One of the new buses added o the Burlington Transit fleet. There were busses that had more than 15 years on their tires - those old ones certainly rattled down Guelph Line when I was on one of them.

A revised service schedule has been released.

• Monthly Passes
• U-Pass Add-ons

Payment Options
• Debit and Credit Only

ePurse Loads also available at prestocard.ca and GO Stations.

Schedule Changes – Aug. 23, 2020
We are adding more service on all Burlington Transit routes starting Aug. 23.

Peak service is between 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Updated Schedules.

Transit sched Aug 4





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The Cost of Doing Business for the Badly Battered Hospitality Sector

News 100 blueBy Michele Bogle

August 5th, 2020



The ‘in-tent’ of this article is to shed light on a new cost of doing business in Burlington.

Stage 3 has provided restaurateurs the ability to bring patrons inside but several of the owners I talked to said they didn’t feel the public was ready for that step.

Bogle - Martini House

The Martini House had a limited amount of space and managed to make it work. Candlelight at night didn’t hurt.

You may have noticed an increasing number of tents popping up around the city for the past month; I toured the tents at Jake’s Grill & Oyster House, Stacked, The Martini House, The Poacher and Jack Astor’s.

The question for the owners of these restaurants isn’t, “How can they not, but rather, can owners actually afford to?”

For those with space, some restaurants have included a tent to an expanded patio setup. For others like The Martini House, space is at a premium so they got creative with the size and number of tents.

Some have spent hundreds of dollars adorning the tents in an effort to mirror that same ‘dining-in’ experience.

Customers are enjoying the tents for larger groups: “We feel like we’re all together this way than at separate patio tables.” Another mentioned that, “With the lights on under the tent, it’s more romantic.”

Jakes Bar and Grill

Jake’s Grill & Oyster House went for the high end tent.

While the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario waived fees for licensing under the tents until January 1, 2021 as long as they are COVID-19 safety compliant, the average sized 15’ x 30’ tent rentals start at $500 per day.

Some, who don’t require special customizations, have bought and others have borrowed.

Most owners still offer curbside service and delivery with apps like SkipTheDishes, Uber Eats and DoorDash, but the apps charge, on average, thirty percent per order.

In an attempt to give relief to restaurants during the onset of COVID-19, Uber Eats and DoorDash waived the delivery fee, but only until May. Now the popular apps run assorted promotions like DoorDash who ‘waived delivery fee’ on the first order over $15.

The Poacher’s owner, who has a huge space that will seat 70, admits that the use of the tents makes business barely sustainable in the short term. For obvious reasons, rainy weather like we’ve had for consecutive days now, has a significant impact on business. Owners are looking to October as the magic month of cooler weather that will bring customers back inside the premises.

Bogle WHO A

For those who have the space – a reasonably large outdoor operation can be set up. The Poacher has space for 70 people.

As a sign of loyalty to the customers many of the restaurants haven’t raised their prices.

In an effort to keep the lights on inside of your favourite eateries, will you consider ‘dining-out’? This sector needs the help and being able to get out for a meal with friends is something that will cheer you up as well.

Michele Bogle is a Burlington based free lance writer with a focus on the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

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Limiting the rate of infections: it's all about geometric progression

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2020



We did a photo feature earlier today with photographs showing people out and about the city not wearing masks.

A number of people thought we were wrong and told us so via their Facebook comments.

The public health objective is to reduce the rate at which infections get passed from person to person.

Meed Ward in a mask

Mayor of the city wears a mask

Wearing a face mask was made mandatory by the city in July. The bylaw was very specific – requiring people in offices and retail locations to wear a face mask.

Many think that the wearing of a mask outdoors is not necessary. Is it just a matter of personal choice or does it mean looking at the options and deciding how careful you want to be ?

The risk is certainly lower outdoors – but it is still a risk – when you add the results of geometric progression to that risk you can see why masks work.

Economist graphHaven’t heard of geometric progression? The explanation for the pattern of American infections lies in something of central importance to the spread of a virus: geometric progression, such as 1, 2, 4, 8, 16.

If one person infects two, two infect four and so on. Unless the rate of infection is driven down by reducing contacts, any geometric increase quickly balloons: 256, 512, 1,024.

The graph makes it clear that when lock downs were in place rates of infection dropped. When the Americans opened things up, in early June – and didn’t require masks – the rate of infections soared.

Simple math… 2048, 4096, 8192, 16,384 – do you want to keep going?

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Masks do not appear to becoming the fashion statement some expected. Few seen on the streets of the city.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2020



It wasn’t the greatest long weekend was it?

The Saturday sunshine worked for a lot of people – some of the rules didn’t work all that well.

The city passed a temporary bylaw requiring requiring people to wear face masks.

Our roving photographer wandered around the city looking in on the traditional hot spots – the Beach, the Pier and the downtown area. It was hard to find anyone wearing a mask.

Do people not know – or they just don’t give a damn.

A picture being 1000 words – here is a long story.

Beach packed

The Beach was packed – no masks but it didn’t seem to matter and it would get in the way of acquiring that tan.

Masksa hit and miss Gibbons

People outside a local shop. Not many masks being worn here. Beer Store on the right – line up respecting the six foot thing – but no masks.

Beer store - six feet but no mask

Pier no mask

Maybe the summer breeze made it unnecessary to wear a face mask

SS park nomasks

On the way into Spender Smith Park. Great weather – no masks.

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Now is the time to double down in our resolve. The celebrations, personal life as we knew it will come in time.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2020



We’ve all worked and sacrificed a lot to get us to this new normal.

Businesses are opening up across the Region and life is resuming some sense of normality, including riders coming back to public transit.

There is a dotted line that connects life when we are not using public transit to keeping others safe when you do use public transit.

Go Aikins

Metrolinx senior manager of media, Anne Marie Aikins

Metrolinx senior manager of media, Anne Marie Aikins – who has been acting as the Emergency Information Officer for Metrolinx during the COVID-19 pandemic – connects those dotted lines.

“ At this point in time it is so easy to let our guard down.

“To give in – for a bit – and try not to let the ongoing pandemic rob of us of any more intimate moments of close contact with those we’ve done without.

“But this war on COVID-19 is not over – not by a long shot. It is easy to forget the enemy and leave a door open.

“Our actions in the back yard, or on a restaurant patio, or greeting friends in a park on a bright summer day, carry over into every other part of our days – and the many people we come in contact with or even pass on a GO Transit train or bus.”

Metrolinx began 2020 by initiating their pandemic response plan. It has been over six months since the first person in Canada tested positive for the Coronavirus. And now more than 116,000 people have tested positive and, tragically, nearly 9,000 have died from this virus.

For more than 130 days, at times excruciatingly lonely days, people have faithfully followed the guidance of our public health officials.

GO IInnishuk

Masks for everyone – everywhere.

“That’s a long time to go without any hugs or handshakes, parties or celebrations, sustained visits or contact with our colleagues, family and friends who nurture, entertain, commiserate and support us throughout our life during the best of times but most especially during the worst of times” said Aikins, who adds: We’ve all been starved of contact and connection.

“We’ve missed all the usual weddings, graduations, vacations and funerals.  No video conference call can ever replace the healing power of a single warm embrace.

“No doubt, life has been hard — especially for those on the front lines. Many people have really suffered, lost loved ones to this virus, lost income due to job loss or lost a stable home or relationship. Our collective mental health has taken a beating and many are feeling wounded.

“We’re exhausted by it all and desire some sense of security and peace that only our friends and family can provide.

“I get that.  I’m an extrovert that thrives around smart, creative, funny, passionate people – but there is so much to lose if we let our exhaustion give into the desire to throw the health rules under, well, the bus.”

Public health officials have seen some worrisome trends of late — although we’ve continued to make progress on reducing the transmission, the numbers of people contracting the virus still persists and younger people now account for half the growth of cases perhaps related to house parties or other big gatherings.

Convincing our youth to use protection has always been a challenge we’ve often failed at miserably. Risky behaviours, however are not reserved to only the frisky.

COVID is not taking the summer off, so we all, young and not so young, must not let down our guard.

Go rider Aug 3-20

Go Transit customer S. Thiru, aboard a GO train. (Lorne Bridgman photo)

As ridership increases and physical distancing becomes more of a challenge on our services, face coverings are critical in making people feel safer on their journey and limit the transmission of the virus.  Metrolinx has made face masks mandatory. Their customers responded as the good partners they are and most have been wearing their face coverings or non-medical masks faithfully.

There are other equally necessary measures. Continue to stay home if you are sick or think you’ve been exposed. Get tested. It’s easy, just a wee bit uncomfortable in the nose region, and testing is readily available and quick.

Aikins adds: “I hate to burst your bubble, but please choose how many you let into your circle judiciously. You don’t want that moment of glory, of reconnecting with friends, to become regretted and a cautionary tale for others.

“Keep everyone outside your circle at a distance, six feet away specifically whenever possible.

“Wash your hands frequently. Scrub them like you just picked up your pooch’s poo. That works for me better than the birthday song. Use hand sanitizer too — you can find it everywhere now. Keep some in your purse or jacket and throw in some disinfecting wipes. It’s often as easy as toilet paper to find in stores now.

“As you open up your social bubbles, keep your visiting outdoors. Enjoy the nice weather. It’s good for the soul. And the fresh air reduces the virus’ ability to spread.

“As horrific as the tally of illness and deaths has been, the losses could have been so much higher if not for your commitment to protecting public health throughout this pandemic.

“You saved lives.

“Now is the time to double down in your resolve. The celebrations, the public good-byes and the healing will come in time.”

This article draws liberally from a piece written by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager, Media.

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Liberal Party Leader takes another swing at the Premier over school opening

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2020



He may not have a seat in the Legislature but Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, is playing political hardball and using the returning students to school issue as the baseball bat with which he is battering the Premier.

Last week he put forward a plan to get the schools opened opened in September that put student safety at the top of the list.

This week he is calling what the province announced on Thursday as the Premier’s “half-baked plan to reopen schools” which Del Duca claims “is nothing short of a catastrophe for parents, students, and teachers. The plan falls short of even the basic standards set out by Sick Kids and blatantly ignores recommendations from school boards, teachers, education workers, healthcare associations, and parents.

“Parents in Halton have been waiting anxiously for a plan to reopen schools safely – Doug Ford gave them one written on the back of a napkin,” said Del Duca. “None of the concerns parents raised have been addressed. None.”

Doug Ford’s school reopening plan gets a failing grade on every measure. The SickKids’ report, released last week, makes it clear that a proper plan must include smaller class sizes and a significant amount of new caretakers (custodians and cleaning staff).

“The Ontario Liberal Party took this advice seriously and, in consultation with experts in health care and education, released their Plan to Help Our Students last week.

Steven Del Duca

Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario

“To reopen safely, the Liberal plan would fund 650 new classrooms in Halton, which are necessary to allow for physical distancing. Under Doug Ford’s Conservatives, there will be no new spaces at all.

“The Liberal plan would also support 710 new teaching positions in Halton to help keep class sizes small. Doug Ford’s plan only supports 14.

“To keep classes and schools clean, the Liberal plan would also create 320 new caretaker positions in Halton. The Conservatives will only create 36. That’s about 1 for every 3 schools.

Miller engaging a prent at Central - ugly

Director of Education Stuart Miller facing an irate parents during the Central School closing issue. Central prevailed and is still open.

Del Duca adds that: “This plan continues to make it clear that Doug Ford is treating our students, their parents and everyone involved in the public education system as an afterthought. What Doug Ford gave us isn’t a plan to safely reopen schools – what he gave us was irresponsible. It doesn’t provide the smaller class sizes we need or enough resources to keep schools clean. It’s a dangerous roll of the dice with our kids’ safety.”

What Del Duca doesn’t include in his plan is where is anyone going to find the 650 classrooms that he maintains are needed. The space just doesn’t exist. As for the number of teachers – the Halton Board does not as yet know how many of the existing teachers are going to opt to return to a classroom.

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller is surveying the teacher compliment to determine how many are not prepared to go into classrooms. Miller has said that he believes there are enough supply teachers who will teach in classrooms.


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Region dashboard with COVID19 data - updated daily.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 3, 2020



The Halton Public Health Unit has created a “dashboard” that gives you an instant look on what has taken place in terms of COVID19 infections.

You can access the dashboard board HERE.

Halton PHU dashboard

For a quick look at the COVID19 numbers for the Region – you can drill down to your community – the dashboard is a useful information source.

Halton’s new interactive COVID-19 dashboard provides a summary of the current local situation and incorporates core epidemiological indicators of COVID-19 activity in Halton to date. Dashboard users can explore Halton’s COVID-19 data on overall case counts, case demographics, institutional outbreaks and lab testing.

As of July 17, Halton Region Public Health is currently in the process of adopting a new provincial COVID-19 database. During this transitional period, all counts should be considered preliminary and are subject to change as information is reconciled.


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Halton recorded 25 COVID 19 deaths as the Region moved into Stage 3: is the public disciplined enough to keep the infection from spreading from person to person?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 3rd, 2020



We are on the last day of a long weekend that has given us more rain than we expected.

People able to get out on the Saturday but come the evening the rains came and kept us wet for much of Sunday.

Last Friday we saw the updates of COVID-19 infection data from the Regional Medical Officer of Health. The numbers were acceptable. Now that we are in Stage 3 where people can move about much more – go into restaurants and gather in larger groups, we are about to be tested on just how disciplined we are going to be able to be.

covid virus

A graphic depiction of the virus.

The virus is in the community – do we maintain individual personal discipline and wear face masks while outside, wash our hands frequently and maintain that six foot thing when we are amongst people we don’t know?

For a feature that explain just how this virus infect us CLICK HERE.

How well we do will show up in the Public Health numbers in a week to ten days. So we wait.

The Public Health numbers as of the 29th of July are set out below.

In Halton, made up of Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills the total number of COVID-19 cases amount to 910, – 827 confirmed + 83 probable.

24 cases currently active among Halton residents – 22 confirmed + 2 probable.

7 day moving average a

All cases have been graphed according to their episode date, which is used to estimate the date that symptoms began. Counts for the past 14 days should be interpreted with caution (indicated using the grey shaded area on the graph), since there is a delay between when a person becomes infected and when they develop symptoms, get tested and are reported as a case.

Probable cases are individuals presumed to have COVID-19 because they have symptoms of COVID-19 and are travelers returning from an affected area, have had close contact with a confirmed case, lived/worked in a facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, or have indeterminate test results.

For each day, Figure 3 shows the average number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past seven days, including only those cases that are not staff or residents/patients associated with an outbreak in an institutional or congregate care setting. Cases have been graphed according to their collection date, which is the date that a sample was taken from them to be tested for COVID-19. The graph suggests that the average number of new cases per day was highest in late March/early April, with another increase in mid-May. Counts for recent days should be interpreted with caution (indicated using the grey shaded area on the graph), since there is a delay between when a person is tested and when their test results are reported to Public Health and entered into the system.

Residents or patients of an institution experiencing an outbreak made up 9% of all cases – 79 people.  114 cases were people who worked in health care – 13% of all cases.

by age and sex b

Infections by age and gender; This is no longer a virus that attacks just the elderly

Figure 4 shows that by end of the day on July 29, the most COVID-19 cases were among Halton residents aged 40-59 (with 312 cases, or 34%). 499 cases (55%) were female. Two cases with unknown sex are excluded from the graph.

Females have outnumbered the males in terms of who got infected.

by municipality c

Figure 5 – infections by municipality.

Figure 5 shows that by end of the day on July 29, the greatest number of COVID-19 cases were among residents of Oakville (with 299 cases, or 33%).


where is it coming from d

Figure 6: Where the public health people determined the infection came from.

Figure 6 shows the percentage of COVID-19 cases by primary exposure category for Halton’s four municipalities and for Halton overall. For Halton overall, by end of day on July 29, 359 cases (40%) had contact with a confirmed case that was believed to be the source of their infection. 300 COVID-19 cases (33%) had no known travel or contact history, and therefore were believed to have acquired the virus within Ontario, making them community cases. 145 (16%) were residents/patients or staff associated with an outbreak in an institutional, congregate care, or workplace setting. 100 cases (11%) had a history of travel that was believed to have been the source of their infection. These proportions vary by municipality, and six cases with exposure information pending have been excluded.

It is important to note that cases can have multiple exposures, and these data reflect only their primary exposure category based on information gathered during case investigation.

Case and contact follow-up

testing goal eFigure 7 shows that 100% of Halton cases reported over the past seven days (Jul. 23-28) were reached by Halton Region Public Health within one day of being reported, which exceeds the provincial goal of 90%. Figure 8 shows that Halton Region Public Health reached 92% of contacts identified over the past seven days (Jul. 23-28) within one day, compared to the provincial goal of 90%.

It is important to note that Public Health attempted to reach 100% of cases and community contacts within one day but in some cases could not reach the client within that time span. Common reasons for not reaching clients within one day include incorrect phone number provided or client did not respond to repeated contact attempts.

Case outcomes

99 cases have ever been hospitalized to date – four are listed as currently in hospital.

861 cases have been resolved;  25 people have died to date (12 of the deceased were residents or patients of an institution experiencing an outbreak)

Institutional outbreaks

institutional fFigure 9 shows the 21 confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19 in Halton institutions reported by end of the day on July 29. Institutions are defined as long-term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals. All 21 of the outbreaks have resolved. Among the 21 confirmed institutional outbreaks reported to date, 13 (62%) have been in long-term care homes, seven (33%) have been in retirement homes and one (5%) has been in a hospital.

Lab testing

Halton residents were tested for COVID-19 within the past seven days of available data (Jul. 19-25)

Halton residents are known to have been tested for COVID-19 to date

tested - results g

Figure 10″ The number of people tested and the percentage that were found to be positive.

The green bars in Figure 10 show the number of Halton residents who were tested for COVID-19 each week, beginning the week of March 1-7. Data for the most recent week (Jul. 19-25) is incomplete due to reporting lags. The number of people tested decreased the week of May 17 compared to past weeks as mass testing of institutional residents was completed. The number of people tested then began to increase again, as the provincial government permitted more widespread testing.

The orange line in Figure 10 indicates the percentage of tested Halton residents who were positive for COVID-19. The percent positivity was highest the week of April 5-11, when 10.3% of Halton residents who were tested for COVID-19 had positive results. In the most recent week (Jul. 19-25), 0.3% of people tested for COVID-19 tested positive, although this number is subject to reporting delays.


Data limitations and Data sources
Halton case data: Case and Contact Management system (CCM), extracted at 7:00 AM on July 30, 2020, to reflect data entered by the end of the day on July 29, 2020

Halton lab testing data: Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Number of individuals who were confirmed positive for COVID-19, COVID-19 Testing Period: 15 Jan 2020 to 25 July 2020. Received on July 28, 2020.
Ontario case counts: Public Health Ontario, Epidemiologic Summary, COVID-19 in Ontario: January 15, 2020 to July 29, 2020, posted on July 30, 2020 to https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus.

Denominators for Halton and Ontario age-specific rates: Population projections [2020], IntelliHEALTH Ontario, extracted on April 8, 2020.

Data notes
CCM is a dynamic disease reporting system which allows ongoing updates to data previously entered. As a result, data extracted from CCM represent a snapshot at the time of extraction and may differ from previous or subsequent reports. The data only represent cases reported to public health and recorded in CCM. As a result, all counts will be subject to varying degrees of underreporting due to a variety of factors, such as disease awareness and medical care seeking behaviours, which may depend on severity of illness, clinical practice, changes in laboratory testing, and reporting behaviours.

Figures 1 and 2 distinguish between lab-confirmed and probable cases. Probable cases are individuals presumed to have COVID-19 because they have symptoms of COVID-19 and are travelers returning from an affected area, have had close contact with a confirmed case, lived/worked in a facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, or had indeterminate test results.All other figures and numbers include both confirmed and probable cases combined, except Figure 3, which uses confirmed cases only.

All data includes only individuals whose main usual residence is in Halton Region. Cases who have municipality information pending are excluded.
Active cases, resolved cases and deaths are a subset of total cases.
• Cases are considered to be active if the case is open in CCM and not listed as resolved.
• Case outcomes (resolved, deaths) reflect the latest available information reported to Halton Region Public Health and recorded in CCM by the extraction time.
• Resolved cases are persons who have been discharged from isolation at 14 days after symptom onset if they did not have a fever and their symptoms were improving for at least 72 hours OR 14 days from when they were tested if they were asymptomatic. For cases with no significant improvement in symptoms, Public Health continues monitoring until the case meets resolution criteria and the case is closed in CCM. For cases in hospital, a test-based approach may be used and isolation is continued until 2 consecutive negative tests are obtained, at least 24 hours apart.
• Deaths include any death that occurred among a person who tested positive for COVID-19, even if the death may not have been directly attributable to COVID-19.
In subsequent reports, counts in Figures 1-3 may increase as cases are added from past dates as individuals become symptomatic, get tested, and their results are reported to Halton Region Public Health, as well as any past results are added due to delayed data entry or new arrival of lab results.

Cases are considered to be patients or residents of an institution experiencing an outbreak if they are linked to a confirmed Halton institutional outbreak in CCM, and they are not known to be a staff person at the institution.

Cases are considered to work in health care if they are known to have an occupation that involves caring for patients, e.g. physician, nurse, occupational therapist, recreational therapist, chiropractor, paramedic, midwife, orderly, etc. Individuals who work in health care settings but do not provide direct care to patients (e.g. managers, cleaning staff) have not been included.

Exposure type is determined by examining the risk factor fields in CCM to determine whether a case travelled, was a resident/patient or staff member in an institution/congregate care setting/workplace experiencing an outbreak inside or outside Halton, was a contact of a case or neither. A hierarchy has been applied as follows:
• Cases with episode date before April 1: Travel > Associated with any type of outbreak (institutional, congregate care, or workplace) in or outside of Halton > Close contact of a confirmed case > None of the above (indicating community acquisition) > Information pending.
• Cases with episode date on or after April 1: Associated with any type of outbreak (institutional, congregate care, or workplace) in or outside of Halton > Close contact of a confirmed case > Travel > None of the above (indicating community acquisition) > Information pending.
It is important to note that cases can have multiple exposures, and these data reflect only their primary exposure category.
Differences between municipalities have not been assessed for statistical significance. Known cases reflect only individuals who were prioritized for testing prior to the expansion of testing in May, which means that differences between municipalities are currently difficult to ascribe to other factors.

Cases are considered to have been reached within 24 hours if their investigation start date and case reported dates in CCM are no more than one day apart.

Contacts are considered to have been reached within 24 hours if their interview completion date and reported dates in CCM are no more than one day apart.

Our main priority in outbreak management is prevention. Ensuring appropriate measures are being taken by the institutions requires time, in addition to collecting information on the status of the residents. Institutional outbreaks include outbreaks of COVID-19 in settings such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals and prisons. Outbreaks in congregate care settings (e.g. group homes) and workplaces are not included. Date declared for outbreaks reflects the outbreak classification date in CCM.

Lab testing data reflects only lab tests that have been assigned to Halton Region based on the methodology used by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. There are several known limitations associated with this data:
• The unit of analysis is the testing episode (unique individuals tested per day). Individuals tested multiple times on different days are counted once in each week’s counts for the appropriate weeks. Testing episodes after the individual’s first confirmed positive COVID-19 test were excluded from subsequent weekly counts (numerator and denominator).
• The COVID-19 test results were captured in the Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS). The testing date represents the date of specimen collection: “observation date” in OLIS. Due to the time required for transportation and processing of specimens, it takes six days for approximately 95% of results to be finalized and reported for a given testing date. Some laboratories did not report all or part of their COVID-19 test results to OLIS. Unconsented test results were excluded;
• Counts less than six are suppressed;
• The location of tested individuals was based upon the test recipient’s postal code (and corresponding health unit) recorded in the OHIP Registered Persons Database (RPDB) for those residing outside a long-term care (LTC) facility, and the LTC address on the OLIS test requisition for specimens collected from LTC facilities. These address assignments lead to misclassification of PHU in approximately 14% of individuals


Data later
New Interactive Halton COVID-19 Dashboard:
Halton’s new interactive COVID-19 dashboard provides a summary of the current local situation and incorporates core epidemiological indicators of COVID-19 activity in Halton to date. Dashboard users can explore Halton’s COVID-19 data on overall case counts, case demographics, institutional outbreaks and lab testing. The dashboard can be accessed at halton.ca/covid19.

Also, please note that as of July 17, Halton Region Public Health is currently in the process of adopting a new provincial COVID-19 database. During this transitional period, all counts should be considered preliminary and are subject to change as information is reconciled.

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Food Bank has a top ten needs list you might want to do something about.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

July 31st, 2020



The feeding of people in need is not small potatoes.

Food Banks have been with us for a long time and are going to be with us for much longer. The why of that being the case is another story.

The Burlington Food Bank has been around since the early 90’s.  It is run now by Robin Bailey who has done a yeoman’s job of adapting to the constant change in the needs of the community.

Bailey Food Bank March 31-20

Robin Bailey, Executive Director of the Burlington Food Bank reports regularly to the community on what they have been able to do and where they need help.

A lot of people lost their jobs when everything was locked down last March. There weren’t any jobs available anywhere and the fall back money just couldn’t cover as much as five months.

People who were self-isolated needed help in getting food – the Food Bank was there to deliver it to their door.

Burlington’s Food Bank has a very strong reputation both provincially and federally. They are part of the Feed Ontario set up that is used to funnel food to the local Food Banks

Bailey reports that his organization “just received the annual survey request from Feed Ontario asking us for our self reporting of policies and procedures.

Feed Ontario is truly supportive of the Burlington Food Bank in many ways such as sharing tips on best practices and to check on our regulations compliance with pest control and cleanliness or checking to make sure we’re giving food that meets criteria for expiry.

Food bank volunteers

These are just some of the people who sort the food that comes in and pack the food that goes out

“We want to make sure we comply with all the standards for any Feed Ontario agency, for the benefit and safety of our clients.
Food Banks Canada gives us opportunities to learn more through their online training system so that we can study best practices from across the country. We are the member of both organizations for the City of Burlington and want to continue to lead the way as a visionary Food Bank to continuously learn how to better help our families. We also use our membership in these organizations to continue assisting other community partners in serving our community!

We will be reporting next week on what the Burlington Food Bank has done during the first five months of the pandemic and learning what Bailey expects the job to be in the months and years ahead.

Top ten needs at this point are:


  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Pasta Sauce
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Juice (Boxes and Litres)
  • Hot Cereal
  • Canned Meat (Chicken, Ham, Turkey)
  • Shampoo, Deodorant, Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
  • Coffee and Tea
  • Crackers
  • Mac and Cheese


Bailey closes every report he makes with this statement:
If you are in need or know of someone who could use our help PLEASE have them email us at info@burlingtonfoodbank.ca or call 905-637-2273 to make arrangements to have food dropped at their door or they can now pick it up. If you live in Burlington, we are here to help.

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COVID Alert Available for Download Beginning Today

News 100 redBy Staff

July 31st, 2020



The Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

This app, which is available beginning today, lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus. It is free, easy and safe to use. The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Work on COVID Alert was initiated in Ontario by the Ontario Digital Service and volunteers at Shopify, and was the foundation of the work by the Government of Canada. The app was developed in consultation with the Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario to ensure the highest level of privacy for everyone using it.

covid virus

If you have been near anyone with this guy – technology can let you know.

“This important, made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app will be a critical part of our case and contact management strategy as more regions in Ontario enter Stage 3 today,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This innovative tool was developed by some of the best and brightest minds in our province, working in partnership with Ottawa. As businesses open their doors and schools prepare for September, we need to help stop the spread and keep others safe by downloading this COVID Alert app.”

The COVID Alert app uses Bluetooth technology to detect when users are near each other. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to let other users know without sharing any personal information. Ontarians who receive an exposure alert can then get tested and take action to help keep themselves, their families, and their friends from spreading COVID-19 throughout the community. The app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address, or contacts of any user.

“Built with a privacy-first approach, COVID Alert is a safe and easy-to-use tool that Ontarians can download to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This Ontario-made app keeps people informed about being potentially exposed to the virus and allows them to act quickly to stop the spread of the virus. It is a key tool in our case and contact management strategy. I encourage all Ontarians to download the app, as early detection of cases will be important as we continue to carefully reopen more of the province.”

COVID Alert is a key tool to strengthen Ontario’s comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management. The app supports the efforts of public health units, allowing the province to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential outbreaks ― without sharing any personal information.

“As Ontario safely and gradually re-opens, we continue to take a digital-first approach to delivering simpler, faster, better services to support Ontarians, including the COVID Alert app, which will leverage technology to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. “By making it easier for Ontarians to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities, we continue to deliver on our commitment to build a smarter government that works for you.”

If an app user receives a message from COVID Alert that they may have been exposed to the virus, they should follow the public health advice given on the app and get tested. To notify other people if an app user has tested positive for COVID-19, they can enter their one-time key from Ontario’s test results website (Ontario.ca/covidresults) into the app. A message will then be sent to other app users who have been within two metres of them for at least 15 minutes within the past 14 days, without sending any information that identifies the user, or the time and place of exposure.

graphic covid 4To stay safe as more of the province reopens, Ontarians should continue to follow public health guidelines including physical distancing with people not in their social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and if anyone thinks they have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, get tested.


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Ward Councillor gives us a peek at what they are thinking about.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 31st, 2020



Each of the city Councillors maintains a Newsletter which they send out to the constituents – if you’re not on the list – just ask and they will happily add your name,

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte finds that “City Hall has been an interesting flow of priorities. At first, all of the regular work of the City came to a halt as City Hall, libraries and community centres emptied and all of the focus was moved to the Emergency Response.

Councillor Stolte looking for a response to her motion - put forward last April

Councillor Stolte looking for a response to a  motion she had put forward.

Then, as spring turned into summer the work of the City slowly resumed and began to reopen, and now we are finally at the stage of getting the function of the City fully back up and running while we learn to live in co-existence with this pandemic.

The priority will still be to ensure that the citizens of this city are safe and that our business community can recover and thrive again while we also work hard towards moving this City into the future.

There are many projects on the go from

improving public transit
inspiring environmental initiatives
solidifying the Official Plan
crafting a Housing Strategy
an Affordable Housing Action Plan
introducing automated Speed Enforcement on our city streets
exploring Electoral Reform options

Several of these haven’t been heard of at either a Standing Committee meeting or Council meetings.

The public will want to know a lot more about Speed Enforcement as well as Electoral Reform.

Are these initiatives that Stolte is heading up? She was quite effective with her share the road that resulted in more space for pedestrians to walk around and she got the city to produce a bylaw making the wearing of face masks mandatory. On that face mask issue she had to arm wrestle the Mayor to maintain control of her initiative.

I think we are seeing more information on new issues from the ward Councillor than we are from the Mayor.

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Province tightens up the rules for restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments

News 100 redBy Staff

July 31st, 2020



The biggest problem the governments are running into getting the economy running again is the need people have to gather in a bar somewhere, stand elbow to elbow (perhaps cheek to cheek) hoisting a cool one or clinking a wine glass – thereby negating the need to stay six feet apart and not breath in each other’s face.

That’s how the COVID19 virus gets around.

In an effort to reduce close contact between individuals in these settings, the province is implementing additional measures for restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments, as the province carefully and gradually reopens.

In order to keep patrons of restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments safe, the amended orders will implement the following measures:

What will it be folks• All patrons will be required to be seated at all times, in both indoor and outdoor areas, with limited exceptions; and

• Bars and restaurants (and also tour boat operators) in Ontario will be required to keep client logs for a period of 30 days and to disclose the client logs to the medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request, which will support case and contact tracing.

• Complementary changes are being made in respect of existing provisions relating to tour operators and tour boat operators.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

Businesses and sectors unable to open or facing significant difficulties in operating under the current restrictions are invited to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal. Businesses are also encouraged to use the government’s guide to develop a workplace safety plan.

Government officials will work collaboratively with them on a plan to safely reopen, where feasible. The plan will be considered by public health officials and the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee as part of Ontario’s approach to Stage 3.

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Schools will open in September - elementary classes will be what they were before the pandemic; secondary will be split.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 31st, 2020


The province announced earlier today that schools would open in September.

Elementary level students will remain a single cohort, five days per week, including for recess and lunch. Further, school boards will be required to provide the full curriculum. Class sizes will remain at the mandated maximum levels in place before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Secondary students in 24 “designated boards” — mainly in urban and suburban areas with relatively high student populations — will attend school on alternating days, in cohorts of about 15.

The Public is going to need some time to absorb this and determine what each household wants to do.

There are a lot of unanswered questions.

Busing students has some problems.

Here is what we do know:

  • Students in grade 4-12 will be required to wear masks with exceptions for things like eating.
  • Mask exemptions will be accommodated for those with valid reasons such as respiratory challenges.
  • For students in JK-Grade 3, masks will be optional but encouraged.
  • Schools will implement additional hand hygiene, cohorting, and distancing.
  • Visitors in schools will be limited and will require pre-registration.
  • Masks will be provided to teachers and staff.
  • If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptoms of the COVID-19, they will be required to stay home.
  • Physical distancing will be implemented as much as possible.
  • Parents are allowed to decide whether their child returns to school in-person this September.
  • Students will have the option of remote learning, which would be delivered by the school board.
  • Any student or staff member who develop COVID-19 symptoms will be immediately separated from others. Staff and parents will then be contacted by their health provider and be informed about COVID-19 testing centres.
  • School staff will receive training on processes and procedures.
  • Organized sports and clubs can proceed if physical distancing can be maintained and equipment is cleaned regularly.


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Is Friday going to be a bad news day on the re-opening of schools?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 30th, 20020



The Ontario Ministry of Education held a Technical Briefing this afternoon on the plans to re-open schools safely in September.

Shannon Fuller, Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategic Policy and Planning Division, Denys Giguere, Assistant Deputy Minister of French-Language Teaching, Learning and Achievement Division, Dr. David McKeown, Chair of Ontario’s Public Health Measures Table, and Nancy Naylor, Deputy Minister, from the Ministry of Education will be taking part.

A question and answer period followed the briefing. All information provided could not be attributed –it was for background purposes only.

Governments meet with media to outline approaches that are being taken to announcements they intend to make.

We can expect an announcement in the very near future on the re-opening of schools.

Governments tend to issue bad news on Friday afternoons of a long weekend.

We are going into a long weekend.

Tomorrow is a Friday.

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Sick Kids weighs in on when students should return to school.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 29th, 2020



Every household in the city that has children attending a school are faced with the questions:

When schools re-open will our children be in the classroom?

It is a very personal family decision – that is compounded by the realities of the modern family where Mom and Dad both work.

Once the parents are back at their desks – the kids have to be in school.

While the Premier of the province is doing his best to keep the public fully informed he is also being very cautious and quite loud when he learns of some of the really stupid social behaviour.

He wants students back in schools but he also wants to be certain that he gets it right the first time.

The public is wary of a government that wants things opened up for the sake of the economy – the parents want to be assured that there children will be safe.

The Hospital for Sick Children released a report today that represents the views of the medical community.

Sick kids picture

With a world class reputation – parents can take some comfort in their views on when students can return to school and what the conditions should be.

SickKids has released new proposed guidelines for reopening schools in Ontario come September, including recommendations like staggered lunch times, no large assemblies, and mandatory masks for older students.

It suggests various health and safety protocols for schools that take a student’s age and developmental considerations into account.

The group says it is recommending the use of masks for high school students, with consideration for middle school students, whenever physical distancing can’t be maintained. Around 61 per cent of the authors agreed masks shouldn’t be required for elementary school kids.

“[Mask wearing] probably will diminish the infectivity of some individuals with COVID, however there are also a number of potential harms,” said Dr. Jeffrey Pernica of McMaster Children’s Hospital, saying that masks could distract and interfere with learning, especially for those with articulation problems, neurological issues, or kids who are learning a second language.

He also said that masks would have to be worn correctly in order to be effective, adding that it could be “impractical” for teachers to enforce.

The doctors aren’t recommending that elementary school children wear masks, saying that they could be a distraction and interfere with learning.

Most of the doctors also agreed that if community transmission is low, masking should not be mandatory for students returning to class.

Group of students MMR

This is the number of students who will fill a classroom under COVIID19 conditions. Will they wear masks?

“The lower the level of COVID in the community … the less benefit there is with masking — but the harms remain the same,” Pernica said. “This is why our recommendations are what they are right now.”  Pernica also added that if the levels change, so will the recommendations.

Dr. Sean Ari Bitnun, a physician at SickKids, further emphasized that one single measure wasn’t going to mitigate things — success relies on the package.

“If we’re not focusing on any of the other recommendations, we are bound for disaster,” he said. “It really is the bundle effect that is going to create a safe environment for teachers and students.”

When it comes to physical distancing, the document says its role “should be discussed with students of all ages,” but added it would not be practical to enforce for kids in elementary school, especially during play times.

Instead, the report says “cohorting” — where kids would avoid mixing with other classes and grades — could be used as a strategy.

“Two metres is optimal, but the transmission at one metre is not significantly different,” said Dr. Charles Hui of CHEO.
Other recommendations include:

Implementing strict screening for students and employees who are symptomatic or have been exposed to the virus.
Teaching kids how to clean their hands properly with developmentally and age-appropriate material.
Arranging classroom furniture to leave space between students.

Students playing instruments

The wind instruments won’t get taken out of their cases this school year.

Having smaller class sizes.  Cancelling choir practices, performances, and band because of the high risk of transmission from wind instruments.

Continuing sports and physical education classes, but cleaning sports equipment and delaying team and close contact sports.
Implementing a regular cleaning schedule.

The doctors said that it would be up to each school to figure out how to implement changes when it came to aspects like running school libraries or preventing masses of students from rushing out into the hallways at the end of the school day.

Dr. Bitnun also called for local public health units to closely collaborate with schools, saying that “there will undoubtedly be positive cases with the children and for teachers.”

‘Putting out fires as they come up’

The document stresses that opening schools safely — and keeping them open — will be directly impacted by how the virus is spreading in the community.

The recommendations reflect a mark of less than 200 new confirmed cases a day, and experts say that “may evolve” as the epidemiology of COVID-19 changes and new evidence emerges.

The doctors said they haven’t identified a specific level of community spread that, if breached, would means schools would have to close.

“A specific number in isolation doesn’t really have value,” said Dr. Bitnun. “My view, and I think this is shared by the others, is maybe the most important thing is to have a robust system of testing and contact tracing … in other words, we should focus on, to paraphrase, putting out fires as they come up rather than shutting down everything based on a specific number.”
Staying home could impact already vulnerable students

The experts quoted in the document continue to push for full-time instruction, saying that remote learning would be “insufficient to meet the needs” of youth.

“Thinking about developmental impact and mental health impact has to be in the same equation as the potential harm of COVID,” said Dr. Sloan Freeman, lead pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital.

There are risks to Ontario schools reopening full-time but ways to mitigate them, experts say

Going back to part time, they said, would affect working parents and caregivers, and mean bringing more people into the loop, like babysitters or grandparents.

Not going back, doctors say, could impact already vulnerable students the most.

boy behavior

Difficult children will find it hardest to cope with the changes.

“Medically complex children or children with severe underlying medical or behavioural illness, I think those families are disproportionately affected by what is going on in terms of isolation and trying to manage at home,” said Dr. Jeremy Friedman, a pediatrician at SickKids. “I think that those families, more than any others probably, will not be able to withstand the sort of time period we’re talking about for [when] this pandemic has moved into a more stable phase.”

“The sad irony is that I think that the children who are perhaps the most fragile and most at risk, those children, those families are the ones that probably need to have the normality and the routine,” he said.

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