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Over 320 TDSB elementary schools to lose at least 1 in-person teacher in reorganization

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

Over 320 Toronto District School Board elementary schools will be losing at least one in-person teacher as the board reorganizes their staff two weeks into the school year.

In a letter sent home to parents, the TDSB says most of the teachers will be moved to virtual school due to the significant number of students, 66,000, who have chosen online learning.

The reorganization will see 12 schools gain one or two teachers, 161 schools lose one teacher, 97 schools will lose up to 2 teachers and 57 schools will lose between two and four teachers. Another nine schools will lose more than four teachers.

Parents whose students are affected by the reorganization will be informed directly from their school. The letter said the majority of schools will not experience significant changes.

The TDSB says these reorganization are typical in a school year and happen within two weeks to meet class size limits, but were delayed due to the year beginning on Sept. 15. The reorganizations will be completed by Oct. 13.

The board added any changes to class size will not exceed their original limits which are 24 students for kindergarten classes, 20 students per Grade 1 to 3 classes and 27 students for a Grade 4 to 8 class.

Schools in communities that are at a higher risk for COVID-19 have a limit of 15 students per kindergarten class and 30 students between Grade 1 to 8 classes.

There are have been a total of 611 cases of COVID-19 in 347 of Ontario’s more than 4,800 schools, the government said on its website for tracking school and child care cases. Of the cases, 141 were reported more than 14 days ago.

One school, Mason Road Junior Public School, was closed last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Toronto home sales surged 42 per cent to set new September record

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

TORONTO — It was the best September on record for Toronto home sales, with 42.3 per cent more sales closing last month than in September 2019.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board says 11,083 existing homes were sold in September, at an average price of $960,772.

The board says the 14 per cent year-over-year price jump was led by low-rise housing, while the condo market was slower.

Board president Lisa Patel says extremely low borrowing costs contributed to the record-breaking sales figures, as did built-up demand left over from the stunted spring season.

The real estate market has been playing catch up after sales plunged in the spring, when COVID-19 lockdowns prevented home showings.

As of the end of September, the board says home sales for the year were one per cent higher than in the first nine months of 2019.

Outdoor classroom pilot project gaining popularity in Toronto

TINA YAZDANI AND VICTORIA REVAY | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

“It’s exciting,” says Lauren Hazelton, a grade 4 student at Father Serra Catholic School in Etobicoke about her reimagined physical education class, being held in a tent outside in her school’s yard.

For weeks now, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has been running a pilot project in ten of its schools, trying to see if this new environment is a feasible option to create more spaces for kids to learn in and at the same time, try and curb the spread of COVID-19.  And it’s not a bad way to get some fresh air, either.

“So far, everybody seems to be enjoying it,” says school principal Dolores Rios. “Teachers want to get in there and test it out.”

And it seems the idea is gaining traction.

Ward two Etobicoke Centre trustee Markus de Domenico says there are eight more schools currently planning to roll out the pilot. The board is requesting additional funding so it can be done across the city.

“I’d love to see all of the schools get something outside,” he said. “Most of our schools in Central Etobicoke have a lot of land, so if we can fit it in, we should do it.”

With COVID-19 infection cases rising in the province, and many schools experiencing outbreaks themselves, spending more time outside may become more of a necessity than an option.

With 63,000 students in the board, around 70 per cent of elementary students and nearly three-quarters of high schoolers have opted for in-person learning. Many of these students also live in COVID-19 hotspots.

Learning spaces are also tight indoors and even with social distancing, many parents have been concerned about kids’ safety.

The tents being naturally aerated allow for more than one cohort to use the space.  As for the colder that’s to come? The principal says heaters and other furniture are being considered so the kids can come to school and enjoy their outdoor time.

“The cooler air is going to present challenges at [the] best of times. But we’re encouraging the kids to be prepared for the colder months,” she says.

As for using the tents for classes other than physical education and music, superintendent of education Flora Cifelli says that option is being looked at, but the safety of students and staff is the priority.

“The tents are a pilot project and we are working on guidelines to make sure they are being properly used,” she says.

Each tent costs the board anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 for a one-time installation fee and four months of use. The TCDSB says it used $100,000 of government funding towards the project.

Trump pumps fist as he walks out of hospital, remains contagious

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

United States President Donald Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday night.

Stepping gingerly, Trump walked out of the hospital where he has been receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19, immediately igniting a new controversy by declaring that despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

Back at the White House, he climbed the South Portico steps, removed his mask and declared, “I feel good.” He gave a double thumbs-up to the departing helicopter from the portico terrace, where aides had arranged American flags for the occasion.

Minutes earlier, the president left the hospital, pumping his fist as he made his way to a waiting SUV that carried him to Marine One for the short helicopter flight back to the White House.

Trump’s doctor, Navy Cdr. Sean Conley, said the president would not be fully “out of the woods” for another week but that Trump had met or exceeded standards for discharge from the hospital. Trump is expected to continue his recovery at the White House, where the reach of the outbreak that has infected the highest levels of the U.S. government is still being uncovered.

Still Trump, who remains contagious, indicated he won’t be kept from campaigning for long, tweeting before leaving the hospital, “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!”

Trump made a point of sounding confident earlier. He tweeted, “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. … I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

However, that message alarmed infectious disease experts and suggested the president’s own illness had not caused him to rethink his often cavalier attitude toward the disease, which has also infected the first lady and several White House aides, including new cases revealed on Monday.

“We have to be realistic in this: COVID is a complete threat to the American population,” said Dr. David Nace of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, an expert on infections in older adults.

“Most of the people aren’t so lucky as the president,” with an in-house medical unit and access to experimental treatments, Nace added.

“It’s an unconscionable message,” agreed Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “I would go so far as to say that it may precipitate or worsen spread.”

There was political pushback to Trump’s attitude toward the virus, as well.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told the Houston Chronicle editorial board that Trump had “let his guard down” in his effort to show that the country was moving beyond the virus and had created “confusion” about how to stay safe.

Conley said that because of Trump’s unusual level of treatment so early after discovery of his illness he was in “uncharted territory.” But the doctor also was upbeat at an afternoon briefing and said the president could resume his normal schedule once “there is no evidence of live virus still present.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can be contagious for as many as — and should isolate for at least — 10 days.

Trump’s expected discharge raised new questions about how the administration was going to protect other officials from a disease that remains rampant in the president’s body. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she had tested positive for the virus Monday morning and was entering quarantine.

Both Nace and Khan expressed fear Trump won’t properly stay isolated at the White House and that he hasn’t learned his lesson about wearing a mask.

“We know he hates the mask, we know he hates to be restricted, we know he’s unpredictable,” Nace said. “The rest of the American people are held accountable to a 10-day isolation period.”

There were also lingering questions about potential long term effects to the president — and even when he first came down with the virus

Conley repeatedly declined to share results of medical scans of Trump’s lungs, saying he was not at liberty to discuss the information because Trump did not waive doctor-patient confidentiality on the subject.

COVID-19 has been known to cause significant damage to the lungs of some patients. Conley also declined to share the date of Trump’s most recent negative test for the virus — a critical point for contact tracing and understanding where Trump was in the course of the disease.

Trump’s nonchalant message about not fearing the virus comes as his own administration has encouraged Americans to be very careful and take precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the disease as cases continue to spike across the country.

For more than eight months, Trump’s efforts to play down the threat of the virus in hopes of propping up the economy ahead of the election have drawn bipartisan criticism.

Only a day earlier, Trump suggested he had finally grasped the true nature of the virus, saying in a video, “I get it.” But then on Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus.

White House officials said Trump was anxious to be released after three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors revealed that his blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick.

Trump’s experience with the disease has been dramatically different from most Americans, who do not have access to the same kind of monitoring and care. While most must cope with their symptoms — and fear of whether they’ll take a turn for the worse — at home and alone, Trump has been staying in the presidential suite of one of the nation’s best hospitals and has been given experimental drugs not readily available to the public. He returns to the White House where there is a team of doctors on call with 24-hour monitoring.

Trump was leaving the hospital after receiving a fourth dose of the antiviral drug Remdesivir Monday evening, Conley said. He will receive the fifth and final dose Tuesday at the White House.

Less than one month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness and to press his campaign effort across the country.

Vice-President Mike Pence returned to the campaign trail moments after Trump announced he would soon leave the hospital. The vice-president boarded Air Force Two to fly to Salt Lake City, where he is to face off against Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results came five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump.

McEnany, who announced Monday that she had contracted the virus, spoke briefly with reporters on Sunday evening without wearing a mask, but said that no members of the White House press corps spent enough time around her to be considered close contacts.

Even before Trump’s motorcade outing on Sunday, some Secret Service agents had expressed concern about the lackadaisical attitude toward masks and social distancing inside the White House, but there isn’t much they can do, according to agents and officials who spoke to The Associated Press. This close to the election, thousands of agents are engaged on protective duty so they can be subbed out quickly should someone test positive.

Trump’s aggressive course of treatment included the steroid dexamethasone and the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus.

Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of Remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and Remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.

 

Ontario begins appointment-based COVID-19 testing system

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

Ontario will begins COVID-19 testing by appointment only this morning.

Premier Doug Ford has said the shift to the new system was done to prepare the province’s 155 assessment centres for winter.

The government has faced criticism over the long lines at assessment centres where people have had to wait for hours for a COVID-19 test.

The province has also changed its screening guidance, now saying that only symptomatic people or those in high-risk groups should seek out a test.

Testing centres began to close Sunday to prepare for the new model that is being launched today.

The province is facing a testing backlog of approximately 68,000 tests.

Anna Olson’s Thanksgiving Recipes!

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

Baked Chicken (Turkey) Katsu with Cucumber Salad & Ginger Cabbage

“Katsu” is Japanese for “cutlet” and these crispy, panko-crusted chicken cutlets make for a delightfully comforting meal.  The comfort comes from the contrast of the crunch of the cutlet’s crust against the sweet-salty taste of the katsu sauce and the ice-cold refreshing nature of the cabbage, but also in the virtue of this dish.  If ordered in a restaurant, your chicken katsu would be deep-fried, but here the cutlets are oven-baked, minimizing the fat used.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Cucumber Salad & Cabbage:

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced on a mandolin

2 Tbsp (30 mL) rice wine vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil

½ tsp (2 mL) table salt

4 cups (1 L) finely sliced green cabbage (sliced on a mandolin)

1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely grated fresh ginger

2 lemons

 

Katsu Sauce:

1/3 cup (80 mL) ketchup

2 Tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce

8–10 dashes Worcestershire sauce

 

Chicken Katsu:

2 cups (500 mL) panko breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb/450 g)

2/3 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour

2 large eggs + 2 Tbsp (30 mL) water

Salt and pepper

6 cups (1.5 L) cooked Japanese sticky rice

3 Tbsp (45 mL) toasted sesame seeds

 

  1. For the cucumber salad, toss the cucumber with the rice vinegar, sesame oil and salt, and chill until ready to eat. Chill the thinly sliced cabbage in ice-water to crisp for 20 minutes, then drain and pat dry with kitchen towels just before serving, then toss with the ginger and juice of 1 lemon. Cut the lemon into 6 wedges and chill.

 

  1. For the sauce, whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and pour into 6 little serving dishes.

 

  1. Toast the panko in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes, then stir in the butter until melted. Set aside to cool.

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place a wire rack over top.

 

  1. Slice the chicken breasts into ¾-inch (18 mm) slices against the grain. Place 1 to 2 slices in a cut-open resealable plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet (or the bottom of a pot) until it is just under ½-inch (12 mm) thick and chill until ready to cook.

 

  1. Set up 3 flat bowls —the first for the flour, the second for the egg wash, and the third for the toasted panko breadcrumbs. Add a little salt and pepper to each bowl and stir in. Dip each of the chicken cutlets into the flour, shake off the excess, then into the egg and, finally, into the panko, coating it thoroughly. Set the breaded cutlets on the wire rack set over the baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crispy, about 18 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through by cutting into a cutlet. If the juices run clear, it’s done.

 

  1. To serve, slice each cutlet into 5 strips and serve with cooked Japanese rice, the Tonkatsu sauce, cucumber salad, and a mound of the drained cabbage. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the cutlets, cucumber salad and cabbage and serve with a wedge of lemon.

 

 

MAE’S BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SALAD

 

Serves 6

Prep Time: Under 15 minutes

Cook Time:

 

1/4 cup (40 g)           raisins

1/4 cup (40 g)           dried cranberries

3 cups (750 mL)       broccoli florets, cut into very small pieces

4 strips                       cooked bacon, chopped

1                                  green onion, sliced

1/3 cup (80 mL)        mayonnaise

3 tbsp (45 mL)          sour cream

1 tbsp (15 mL)          lemon juice

1 cup (110 g)            coarsely grated medium Cheddar cheese

salt and pepper

 

  1. Soak raisins and dried cranberries in hot tap water for a minute or two, to soften. Drain and reserve.

 

  1. Toss broccoli**, bacon and green onion together. In a separate bowl, stir mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice and stir into broccoli mixture. Add cheddar cheese, raisins and dried cranberries and season to taste.

 

Chill until ready to serve.

 

 

**To make the broccoli easier to digest and brighten its colour, it can be blanched in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds and then shocked in an ice bath before draining well.

Man shot and killed in Brampton

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

A man in his 20s is dead after a shooting in Brampton early Monday morning.

Emergency crews were called to the area of Creditview Road and Clockwork Drive near Mayfield Road around 4:30 a.m.

Paramedics said the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

There is no word on suspects or what led up to the shooting.

Trump leaves hospital briefly to greet supporters, declares ‘I get it’

JILL COLVIN, STEVE PEOPLES AND JONATHAN LEMIRE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 5th, 2020

Two days after being hospitalized with COVID-19, President Donald Trump declared, “I get it,” in a message to the nation Sunday before briefly leaving the hospital to salute supporters from his motorcade, a move that again showed his willingness to disregard basic precautions to contain the virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Hours earlier, Trump’s medical team reported that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. The doctors also said his health is improving and that he could be discharged as early as Monday.

“It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID,” Trump said, standing in his hospital room in a video posted on social media. “I learned it by really going to school.”

He added, “I get it, and I understand it.”

Before the video was posted, the infected president cruised by supporters in his sealed SUV, windows rolled up, driven by Secret Service agents in protective gear who were potentially exposed to the disease that has swept through the White House in recent days.

“This is insanity,” tweeted Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump has been hospitalized since Friday evening.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential `drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die,” the doctor wrote. “For political theatre. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theatre.”

Meanwhile, former Vice-President Joe Biden’s campaign said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results came five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump. Biden had two negative tests on Friday, as well.

Trump’s doctors earlier in the day sidestepped questions about exactly when Trump’s blood oxygen dropped – an episode they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before – or whether lung scans showed any damage.

It was the second straight day of confusion and obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition.

Pressed about conflicting information he and the White House released on Saturday, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley acknowledged that he had tried to present a rosy description of the president’s condition.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had. Didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” Conley said. “And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”

Medical experts said Conley’s revelations were hard to square with the doctor’s upbeat assessment and talk of a discharge.

“There’s a little bit of a disconnect,” said Dr. Steven Shapiro, chief medical and scientific officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

At the same time, Trump’s drive-by greeting was reminiscent of the moment in 2016 when he emerged from Trump Tower in the midst of the Access Hollywood tape scandal to greet his supporters on the street below. But this move potentially exposed several people in his security detail to COVID-19.

According to CDC guidelines, “In general, transport and movement of a patient with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection outside of their room should be limited to medically essential purposes.”

Some Secret Service agents have expressed concern about the lackadaisical attitude toward masks and social distancing inside the White House, but there isn’t much they can do, according to agents and officials who spoke to the AP. This close to the election, thousands of agents are engaged on protective duty so they can be subbed out quickly should someone test positive.

Concern over Trump’s impromptu drive capped a day when doctors’ revelations about his oxygen levels and steroid treatment suggested the president is enduring more than a mild case of COVID-19.

Blood oxygen saturation is a key health marker for COVID-19 patients. A normal reading is between 95 and 100. Conley said the president had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94% on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday.

He was evasive about the timing of Trump oxygen drops. (“It was over the course of the day, yeah, yesterday morning,” he said) and asked whether Trump’s level had dropped below 90%, into concerning territory. (“We don’t have any recordings here on that.”) But he revealed that Trump was given a dose of the steroid dexamethasone in response.

At the time of the briefing, Trump’s blood oxygen level was 98% – within normal rage, Trump’s medical team said.

Signs of pneumonia or other lung damage could be detected in scans before a patient feels short of breath, but the president’s doctors declined to say what those scans have revealed.

“There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern,” Conley said. He declined to outline those “expected findings.”

Asked about Conley’s lack of transparency, White House aide Alyssa Farah suggested the doctors were speaking as much to the president as to the American public, “when you’re treating a patient, you want to project confidence, you want to lift their spirits and that was the intent.”

Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, pulled his attack ads off the air during Trump’s hospitalization, and on Sunday, he dispatched senior aides to deliver a largely friendly message.

“We are sincerely hoping that the president makes a very quick recovery, and we can see him back out on the campaign trail very soon,” Biden adviser Symone Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

She added, “This is a glaring reminder that the virus is real.”

Trump’s medical team indicated that his hospital stay could end soon.

“Our plan for today is to have him eat and drink, to be up out of bed as much as possible, to be mobile,” Dr. Brian Garibaldi said. “And if he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House where he can continue his treatment course.”

More than 209,000 Americans have been killed by the virus, by far the highest number of confirmed fatalities in the word. In all, nearly 7.4 million people have been infected in the United States, and few have access to the kind of around-the-clock attention and experimental treatments as Trump.

Trump’s treatment with the steroid dexamethasone is in addition to the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus. Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways – the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.

Garibaldi, a specialist in pulmonary critical care, said the president was not showing any side effects of the drugs “that we can tell.”

The National Institutes of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines recommend against using dexamethasone in patients who do not require oxygen. It has only been proven to help in more serious cases. Among the concerns with earlier use is that steroids tamp down certain immune cells, hindering the body’s own ability to fight off infection.

Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications.

First lady Melania Trump has remained at the White House as she recovers from her own bout with the virus.

Several White House officials this weekend expressed frustration with the way level of transparency and public disclosure since the president announced his diagnosis early Friday.

They were particularly upset by the whiplash between Conley’s rosy assessment Saturday and Meadows’ more concerned outlook. They privately acknowledge that the administration has little credibility on COVID-19 and that they have unnecessarily squandered what remains of it with the lack of clear, accurate updates on Trump’s condition.

Many in the White House are also shaken and scared – nervous that they have been exposed to the virus and confronting the reality that what seemed like a bubble of safety has become a COVID-19 hot spot. There has been no mass directive sent to staff on how they should respond.

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