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Half of elementary students at Peel public board opted for online learning

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 1st, 2020

Nearly half of students at public elementary schools in a COVID-19 hot spot west of Toronto are learning online, according to data provided by the school board.

Upwards of 54,600 elementary students have opted for remote learning this year at the Peel District School Board and 57,300 have returned to the classroom.

That compares to roughly 35 per cent of elementary students who are learning online at the Toronto District School Board — the province’s largest.

Meanwhile, the Peel board’s high schools are running on an adapted model, with students who chose in-class learning only attending school half the time to minimize contact with their peers.

Still, the board says 27 per cent of high schoolers — around 11,200 — are learning fully online.

Peel Public Health says it’s seen 9,707 cases of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, 8,396 of whom have recovered, and 329 deaths.

In-school vaccine programs moved to clinics, doctors’ offices in parts of Ontario

PAOLA LORIGGIO, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 1st, 2020

Vaccines normally offered in school to Grade 7 students will instead be delivered at community clinics and doctors’ offices in parts of Ontario, meaning parents will have to make arrangements to ensure their children are immunized.

The Ministry of Health says local public health units, which are responsible for immunization programs including those in schools, are working to let residents know where they can access the vaccines.

Students in Grade 7 are typically given vaccines for Hepatitis B, Human Papilloma Virus and Meningococcal disease in school. Some of those shots require more than one dose.

Those programs have been disrupted due to COVID-19, which has seen thousands of students choose virtual lessons over in-person classes.

In Ottawa and Toronto — two regions experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases — public health officials say clinics will prioritize administering the flu vaccine this fall.

But they say vaccination clinics for students will be held in the community at a later date to replace the in-school programs.

“Given the exceptional circumstances, (Ottawa Public Health) has also invited family physicians to order school-aged vaccinations to their private practice to immunize their individual patients, which is not a typical accommodation,” the health unit said.

A series of so-called catch-up clinics were also held throughout the summer to help families stay on top of vaccinations, but those were paused once schools reopened, it said.

The school-based program typically reaches about 10,000 students in Ottawa each year, the unit said.

In Toronto, the HPV, Hepatitis B and Meningococcal disease vaccines will be available by appointment at clinics in the new year, though parents can also ask their health-care provider to administer it, public health officials said.

Reviews of students’ immunization records are also cancelled for the rest of the year, said Toronto’s associate medical officer of health, Dr. Vinita Dubey.

“Vaccines provide individuals with protection from non-COVID-19 diseases. Students visiting their health-care providers for scheduled or urgent visits should not delay vaccinations at this time,” Dubey said in an email.

Dr. Jennifer Blake, chief executive officer of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, said it’s important for parents to ensure their children get all the necessary doses of the HPV vaccine despite the disruption in the school programs.

Ontario already vaccinates students later than other provinces, she said, noting the HPV vaccine may require a third dose if administered at a later age. The vaccine is the most important preventive measure against cervical cancer, she said.

“What we know from the worldwide experience is that the most effective programs for vaccination are the school-based programs. So anything that interferes with a school-based vaccination program can throw us off,” Blake said.

“It is something to consider as to whether or not in future years, it’s worth moving this program back to an earlier grade level so that you do have a little bit of a buffer in case something like this continues or happens again.”

Toronto city council approves further restrictions on bars, restaurants

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Oct 1st, 2020

Toronto city council unanimously voted Wednesday to implement further restrictions to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.

Councillors voted in favour of a plan, put forth earlier this week by Toronto’s medical officer of health, that will mainly affect restaurants and bars in the city.

Bars and restaurants will now be required to log contact information for every customer, not just one person in each party and the number of people allowed at a table will be limited to six.

As well, the number of people allowed inside a restaurant or bar at any one time will now be limited to 75, down from 100.

Establishments where music or any other background sounds are played are being ordered to keep the level no louder than “normal conversation” in order to prevent the spreading of droplets.

City council is also urging the province to mandate face coverings in workplaces where physical distancing is not possible.

The new temporary bylaw amendments will take effect on October 8.

These additional measures are on top of provincial restrictions placed on bars and restaurants last week, requiring them to stop serving alcohol by 11 p.m. and close at midnight, except for takeout and delivery, while ordering strip clubs to close immediately.

Mayor John Tory called it a tough decision but says it’s one that has to be balanced to keep people healthy and maintain economic stability.

“We’re doing what we believe is right. We are recommending what we believe is right. All of these things fit into that category,” said Tory.

“We’re certainly only doing it after a very careful assessment done daily about the consequences these types of things have, because they do have consequences.”

In response to concerns that these added restrictions will further negatively impact an already struggling food service industry, Tory has suggested further supports, such as providing winter patios and requesting additional financial support from the federal government.

The city is also going to ask the province to extend orders that permit the sale of alcohol as part of takeout and delivery orders into next year and that all commercial evictions be paused until the “COVID-19 resurgence eases.”

City council also voted to extend the current temporary bylaws covering physical distancing in public spaces and mandatory mask or face coverings until the first meeting of 2021.

Councillor’s also approved a motion put forth by Board of Health chair Joe Cressy that directs the medical officer of health to consider any additional measures with gyms and fitness studios as possibly the next targets if transmission rates continue to climb.

City health officials reported 321 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday with the total number of cases falling just short of 20,000.

The Mohawk Institute: A first look at the former residential school, preserved to tell its history

Melanie Ng and Talia Knezic | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

Warning: The story and video contain details that are graphic and may be disturbing.



The Mohawk Institute in Brantford is one of two remaining former residential schools in Ontario. Other such buildings have been torn down or converted, but the hope is that this location is preserved for better understanding and learning. Breakfast Television is the first media to walk through this building since undergoing renovations, with host Melanie Ng taken on the tour.

Each room, each wall, and each door holds within it decades of pain and suffering. Carley Gallant-Jenkins, a coordinator for “Save The Evidence,” speaks of its history. Established in 1831, children from Six Nations were taken away from their parents and brought here to assimilate — with the goal of eliminating their Indigenous cultures and language.

Entering the various rooms, Gallant-Jenkins points out what would occur in each, starting with the boys’ side of the building.

“Teachers and faculty who worked here would pull boys out of their beds at night, bring them down here, make them fight, and they’d watch through windows,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

“The boy who lost would have to clean up afterwards. The boy who won would get extra perks,” she adds, referring to the ‘fight hallway.’

Moving to the boiler room, we learn that physical and sexual abuse often took place in these types of areas because of how loud they were.

“One of the girls’ roles was to do laundry for students and the surrounding community,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

“They were hired out from the school to do the community’s laundry; the school was profiting off of their labour.”

The cafeteria, which was a gathering space where siblings could catch a glimpse of one another, was separated by gender and number.

“They did do their best to try and separate family units,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

In 1970, The Mohawk Institute closed its doors but reopened two years later as the Woodland Cultural Centre. It was deemed a local historic site so that decisions would remain within the hands of the community.

The centre was designed to promote First Nations culture and heritage. After a major flood in 2013 caused severe damage to the building, the community voted to rebuild it.

“If this is a pile of rubble with a plaque in front of it saying what it was, it’s not the same as walking through these hallways and standing where these children stood,” Gallant-Jenkins says when asked why the decision to restore the building was made.

The “Save The Evidence” campaign cost millions of dollars. The ideal timeline was for the building to open its doors again in 2020, but fundraising efforts were hampered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With hundreds of thousands more to raise, organizers are now hoping for a 2022 opening.

“I think I want people, personally, to be left with the resilience, to see what happened to these people, and to see where these communities are today,” Gallant-Jenkins says.

Click here for more information on the Save The Evidence campaign.

Click here to join a virtual tour of your own, for a small fee to support fundraising efforts.

Police investigate report of gunfire near Driftwood Avenue and Yorkwoods Gate

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

Toronto police are investigating a shooting incident in the Driftwood Avenue and Yorkwoods Gate area.

Police tweeted at around 9:35 p.m. Tuesday that they had received a report of gunfire in the area.

When officers arrived, they found multiple gun shell casings at the scene.

Witnesses told investigators a man was seen running to a nearby vehicle, which is described as being white in colour and equipped with silver rims.

In total, police said there appear to be two people involved with the incident.

The first suspect is described as a male with braided hair. He was seen wearing white pants and a white sweater.

The second suspect is also male. He was seen wearing a black sweater, a black jacket and jeans.

Police said they continue to investigate the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police directly. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.

Toronto police investigate shooting allegedly involving a tow truck

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

Toronto police say they are investigating a shooting allegedly involving a tow truck.

Police said they were called at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to the Midland Avenue and Ellesmere Road area for a report of gunfire.

When officers arrived shortly after, they found blood at the scene, but no victims or suspects.

Witnesses told investigators the shooter fled in a tow truck and that a victim left the scene in a black Range Rover SUV.

Later, police said a man was dropped off at a hospital suffering from a gunshot wound. He is listed as having serious injuries.

It is not clear if the man in the hospital is connected to the alleged shooting at Midland Avenue and Ellesmere Road.

Investigators said they are dealing with multiple crime scenes.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police directly. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.


FACT CHECK: Claims from Trump and Biden’s first debate

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden sparred Tuesday in their first of three debates, hoping to sway undecided voters planning to cast ballots by mail and in person in the final weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 election.

A look at how their statements from Cleveland stack up with the facts:


BIDEN: Trump will be the “first (president) in American history” to lose jobs during his presidency.

THE FACTS: No, if Trump loses re-election, he would not be the first president in U.S. history to have lost jobs. That happened under Herbert Hoover, the president who lost the 1932 election to Franklin Roosevelt as the Great Depression caused massive job losses.

Official jobs records only go back to 1939 and, in that period, no president has ended his term with fewer jobs than when he began. Trump appears to be on track to have lost jobs during his first term, which would make him the first to do so since Hoover.



TRUMP, on coronavirus and his campaign rallies: “So far we have had no problem whatsoever. It’s outside, that’s a big difference according to the experts. We have tremendous crowds.”

THE FACTS: That’s not correct.

Trump held an indoor rally in Tulsa in late June, drawing both thousands of participants and large protests.

The Tulsa City-County Health Department director said the rally “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases there. By the first week of July, Tulsa County was confirming more than 200 new daily cases, setting record highs. That’s more than twice the number the week before the rally.


TRUMP, addressing Biden: “You didn’t do very well on the swine flu. H1N1. You were a disaster.”

THE FACTS: Trump frequently distorts what happened in the pandemic of 2009, which killed far fewer people in the United States than the coronavirus is killing now. For starters, Biden as vice-president wasn’t running the federal response. And that response was faster out of the gate than when COVID-19 came to the U.S.

Then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu surveillance network sounded the alarm after two children in California became the first people diagnosed with the new flu strain in this country.

About two weeks later, the Obama administration declared a public health emergency against H1N1, also known as the swine flu, and the CDC began releasing anti-flu drugs from the national stockpile to help hospitals get ready. In contrast, Trump declared a state of emergency in early March, seven weeks after the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was announced, and the country’s health system struggled for months with shortages of critical supplies and testing.

More than 200,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. The CDC puts the U.S. death toll from the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic at about 12,500.


TRUMP, addressing Biden on U.S. deaths from COVID-19: “If you were here, it wouldn’t be 200,000 people, it would be 2 million people. You didn’t want me to ban China, which was heavily infected…. If we would have listened to you, the country would have been left wide open.”

THE FACTS: This accusation is off the mark. Biden never came out against Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China. Biden was slow in staking a position on the matter but when he did, he supported the restrictions. Biden never counselled leaving the country “wide open” in the face of the pandemic.

Trump repeatedly, and falsely, claims to have banned travel from China. He restricted it.

The U.S. restrictions that took effect Feb. 2 continued to allow travel to the U.S. from China’s Hong Kong and Macao territories over the past five months. The Associated Press reported that more than 8,000 Chinese and foreign nationals based in those territories entered the U.S. in the first three months after the travel restrictions were imposed.

Additionally, more than 27,000 Americans returned from mainland China in the first month after the restrictions took effect. U.S. officials lost track of more than 1,600 of them who were supposed to be monitored for virus exposure.

Dozens of countries took similar steps to control travel from hot spots before or around the same time the U.S. did.


WATCH: Trump, Biden face off in first presidential debate



TRUMP: “I’m the one who brought back football. By the way, I brought back Big Ten football. It was me and I’m very happy to do it.”

THE FACTS: Better check the tape. While Trump had called for the Big Ten conference to hold its 2020 football season, he wasn’t the only one. Fans, students, athletes and college towns had also urged the conference to resume play.

When the Big Ten announced earlier this month that it reverse an earlier decision to cancel the season because of COVID-19, Trump tweeted his thanks: “It is my great honour to have helped!!!”

The conference includes several large universities in states that could prove pivotal in the election, including Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.



BIDEN, on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett: “She thinks that the Affordable Care Act is not constitutional.”

THE FACTS: That’s not right.

Biden is talking about Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett has been critical of the Obama-era law and the court decisions that have upheld it, but she has never said it’s not constitutional. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on Nov. 10, and the Trump administration is asking the high court to rule the law unconstitutional.



TRUMP: “Drug prices will be coming down 80 or 90%.”

THE FACTS: That’s a promise, not a reality.

And as a promise, it’s an obvious stretch.

Trump has been unable to get legislation to lower drug prices through Congress. Major regulatory actions from his administration are still in the works, and are likely to be challenged in court.

There’s no plan on the horizon that would lower drug prices as dramatically as Trump claims.



TRUMP: “You said you went to Delaware State, but you forgot the name of your college. You didn’t go to Delaware State. … There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”

THE FACTS: Trump is quoting Biden out of context. The former vice-president, a graduate of the University of Delaware, did not say he attended Delaware State University but was making a broader point about his long-standing ties to the Black community.

Trump is referring to remarks Biden often says on the campaign, typically when speaking to Black audiences, that he “goes way back with HBCUs,” or historically Black universities and colleges. Biden has spoken many times over the years at Delaware State, a public HBCU in his home state, and the school says that’s where he first announced his bid for the Senate _ his political start.

“I got started out of an HBCU, Delaware State _ now, I don’t want to hear anything negative about Delaware State,” Biden told a town hall in Florence, South Carolina, in October 2019. “They’re my folks.”

Biden often touts his deep political ties to the Black community, occasionally saying he “grew up politically” or “got started politically” in the Black church. In front of some audiences, he’s omitted the word “politically,” but still with a clear context about his larger point. The statements are all part of standard section of his stump noting that Delaware has “the eighth largest Black population by percentage.”

A spokesman for the Delaware State University, Carlos Holmes, has said it took Biden’s comments to refer to his political start, saying that Biden announced his bid for the U.S. Senate on the DSU campus in 1972.

Biden’s broader point is push back on the idea that he’s a Johnny-Come-Lately with the Black community or that his political connections there are owed only to being Barack Obama’s vice-president.


Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Ellen Knickmeyer, Calvin Woodward, Hope Yen, Mark Sherman, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Bill Barrow, David Klepper and Amanda Seitz contributed to this report.


EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.


Find AP Fact Checks at http://apnews.com/APFactCheck

U.S. Presidential debate veers from ‘How you doing?’ to ‘Will you shut up?’

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS VIA CP | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

CLEVELAND — It started out civil enough, with President Donald Trump striding deliberately to his lectern, and Democrat Joe Biden nodding to his opponent and offering, “How you doing, man?”

Within 15 minutes, the interruptions and talking over one another at Tuesday’s presidential debate had deteriorated to the point that Biden blurted out, “Will you shut up, man?”

There were no handshakes to start the first presidential debate of the 2020 general election. The traditional nicety was one of several formalities abandoned because of the ongoing pandemic.

The 90-minute faceoff played out in a makeshift debate hall with a crowd of under 100 people due to coronavirus safety restrictions, in an atrium that previously was set up for use as a hospital for COVID-19 patients.

Trump kept up his badgering of Biden, drawing a string of rejoinders from the Democrat, including a plea to “just shush for a minute” at the half-hour mark.

At other points, the two candidates dialed down their rhetoric, but then the interruptions would spring up again. When Trump was fielding a question about reports he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, Biden was the one interjecting: “Show us your taxes. Show us your taxes.”

The reaction from the mask-wearing crowd was inaudible on television as Trump frequently talked over Biden. There was no discernible response when the former vice-president called the sitting president a “clown” and frustratedly told him to “keep yapping.”

In the first head-to-head debate, the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic could not be missed. Crowds and pageantry were out. COVID-19 tests and masks were in.

Trump came out of the gate looking to challenge Biden at every turn — and the former vice-president’s patience was soon spent.

“Will you shut up, man!” Biden snapped, drawing laughs loud enough that they could be heard through the masks from the atypically small debate crowd.

Roughly 50 minutes into the debate, moderator Chris Wallace’s frustration came to a boil, as he tried to remain even-keeled and stop the rivals from talking over each other.

“Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but why should I be any different than the two of you?” Wallace said.

Trump blamed Biden, but Wallace firmly pushed back to the president, “Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting.”

Presidential debates are typically some of the most exciting nights of the campaign season, drawing thousands of staffers, media and guests.

But this year, as with almost everything else, things were very, very different, with a long list of precautions in place before Trump and Biden took the stage.

Instead of the usual auditorium setting, the debate was hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University in the spacious 27,000-square-foot (2,500-square-meter) atrium of the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion on the clinic’s Health Education Campus. Notre Dame, the original debate host, withdrew because of the pandemic.

Earlier this year, the building had been transformed into a temporary, 1,000-bed surge hospital, named Hope Hospital, for expected coronavirus patients. Though it never ended up needing to be used, the floor where the debate stage was built was not long ago lined with beds for patients and copper piping to bring in oxygen.

The atrium, with its skylighted roof, was turned into a makeshift debate hall with a stage, red carpeting and elevated platforms for cameras. About 100 people watched, all of whom were tested for the virus.

Each candidate’s campaign was given 20 tickets to hand out to guests, said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Trump’s guests included his wife, Melania, and his four adult children. Seats were set with programs and anti-bacterial wipes.

Some in Trump’s section tried to greet the first lady with a standing ovation as she walked in, but with the sparse crowd it didn’t quite come together.

As the crowd filed in before the start of the debate, nearly all were abiding by the social distancing and mask wearing rules. One audience member even wore a bright red MAGA face mask, technically a violation of rules prohibiting campaign paraphernalia.

The emptiness of the room only made the sharpness of the candidates’ verbal slugfest, which often took the tone of a schoolyard squabble, more notable.

“The fact is that everything he’s saying so far is simply a lie,” a flustered Biden snapped when Trump suggested that the vice-president stole the nomination from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar.”


Madhani reported from Chicago.

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