#OntarioSafe; #StudentHealth; #Covid19; #SchoolsClosed; #OntarioHealth; #HomeLearning
Ottawa, May 19 (Canadian-Media): The Ontario government is protecting the health and safety of students during the COVID-19 outbreak by keeping schools closed for the rest of this school year. This decision was made after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, and medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children.
At the same time, the government is planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year, the gradual reopening of child care, and the opening of summer day camps subject to the continuing progress in trends of key public health indicators.
Today's announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
"Nothing is more important than protecting our kids in this province, bar none over anything," said Premier Ford. "Today's announcement gives parents certainty, knowing that their children can continue to learn safely at home and that we have a plan for child care as we work to gradually reopen more of our economy, when it is safe to do so."
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
All students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.
Later this summer, the government will announce a plan to strengthen learning and safety protocols to enable students and staff to return to in-class instruction for the 2020-21 school year. That plan will be bolstered by an enhanced province-wide virtual learning program that will allow all students to learn, regardless of the challenges that may transpire in the coming months.
Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children, families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the Province. Emergency child care will continue to operate and provide support for health care and other frontline workers. A gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 based on public health criteria, which will include robust safety protocols for the safety of Ontario's youngest learners and their staff.
"We will never waver from our commitment to keep your child safe, while learning at home," said Minister Lecce. "Our plan will ensure students receive the best educational experience, both inside and outside the classroom, during this difficult time. That is why we are strengthening summer learning opportunities, reopening summer day camps, and it is why we will continue to make the case for synchronous, live, and dynamic learning."
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter handle
Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August of this year with strict health and safety guidelines to be developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.
The province also unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning plan to ensure Ontario students have every opportunity to continue their learning through the summer months. Summer learning programs are being expanded to reach the most students in Ontario history, to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge required to succeed.
To support at-home learning, the government is leveraging all tools, resources, technologies and services to assist school boards deliver equitable and effective learning through access to technology and Internet connectivity, especially for students in rural and remote parts of Ontario. To help improve access to remote learning, Ontario is partnering with 34 organizations and private businesses, along with school boards, to address key needs among educators, students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ontario has worked to identify and make available low-cost, high-impact solutions that can significantly improve the Learn at Home experience now and into the future. Access to digital learning resources, supports for special education needs and mental health, as well as Internet connectivity and access to devices have all been identified by school boards and other stakeholders as urgent needs during the current school closure period. These organizations and businesses were identified through a call for proposals on the Ontario Together website between March 31, 2020 and April 21, 2020.
#OntarioSchoolsClosure; #COVID19Pandemic; #OntarioHealth; #OntarioEducation
Ottawa, May 19 (Canadian-Media): Decision to cancel all in-person learning for the school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic was announced Tuesday by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, media reports said.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
"The safety of our children is my top priority," Ford said.
The decision was made after province's consultation with the chief medical officer of health and medical experts.
427 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ontario Tuesday morning by Ontario's Ministry of Health, a 1.9 percent increase, that brought the provincial total to 23,384 since the outbreak began in late January.
The growth rate in new daily cases was revealed to be slightly higher than those seen over the last several weeks.
"We cannot open schools at this time," Ford said. "I'm just not going to risk it."
The province said that all students who were on track to graduate from high school before schools were shuttered in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.
Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce said a full plan for reopening the province's schools in September, including physical distancing and restriction of movement of students at school, will be released by the end of June.
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter handle
"It is obvious that schools will not look the same, that we will have to reimagine education in some respects in September given that there will have to be some protocol changes," Lecce said.
A plan to enhance province-wide virtual learning program, was also announced by the province, to enable all students to learn, regardless of the challenges that may arise in the coming months.
The Ontario Public School Boards' Association also appreciated the decision of a measured and cautious approach to the return of in-class instruction guided by the advice of health officials, with input from school boards, educators and staff.
#GUSCanada; #TrebasInstitute; #MusicAndEntertainmentIndustry;
Global University Systems Canada (GUS Canada), announced May 18 that its network of institutions in the country would be joined by Trebas Institute, a leading private education provider deeply rooted in the music and entertainment industry, media reports said.
Trebas Institute. Image credit: Facebook Page
With campuses in Toronto and Montreal, Trebas Institute's legacy of highly successful graduates has enabled the school to offer a wealth of excellent programs, designed with human relations approach to services to prepare students for successful and rewarding careers in the entertainment industry.
Luisa Tanzi, Vice President of Trebas Institute said that collaboration with the GUS team Canada will enhance higher level of exceptional service to the students and future employers of Trebas Institute.
Partnering with internationally-minded, innovative educational institutions, GUS Canada's predominant institutions include University Canada West (UCW), Toronto School of Management (TSoM) and The Language Gallery Canada (TLGC).
Founded in 1979, GUS will be the first GUS Canada institution, to combine with the leading education institutions to enable students to excel in these industries in providing practical hands on training with its creative and supportive environment.
Alliance with Trebas Institute will expand our GUS Canada's variety of study paths and qualifications to new sectors and locations by adding creative disciplines, Cyndi McLeod, GUS Canada CEO, said.
Yuliya Etingen, VP Strategic Development at GUS Canada said with its shared passion for accessible and relevant learning opportunities, GUS Canada would receive a valuable contribution from Trebas Institute's versatile programs and its exceptional quality of facilities, faculty and staff.
Toronto, May 11 (Canadian-Media): Today, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement to encourage school boards to proceed with celebrations of student achievement subject to health and safety limitations during the COVID-19 outbreak:
Stephen Lecce. Twitter handle
"Students have worked incredibly hard this school year, and we know that the COVID-19 outbreak has forced some schools to cancel or delay important milestones to recognize student achievement, such as prom and graduation ceremonies.
Although we are making great efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario, it may still be some time before schools and boards are able to offer the kinds of ceremonies and traditions in the same way they have in previous years.
I spoke directly to many graduating students and their parents. Their stories have moved me to act. I firmly believe Ontario students deserve this positive conclusion to their academic journey, even if ceremonies are delayed.
Despite this uncertainty, I am encouraging boards to reschedule these events based on input from local medical officers of health. In some cases, this might mean facilitating graduation ceremonies and proms during the summer or fall when it is safe to do so.
These are important events for all students and their families. While students in Ontario have been incredibly flexible and eager in the transition to Learn at Home, we know that the support of their parents and guardians has been critical in rapidly shifting toward a newer model of learning. Students and parents deserve to celebrate many of these critical milestones — especially graduation ceremonies — and I expect boards to preserve these opportunities to proudly recognize the incredible success and achievement resulting from the hard work of our students.
WorldPressFreedomDay; #UN; #UNESCO; #Coronavirus; #JinethBedoyaLima
Geneva, May 4 (Canadian-Media): Journalists are key to countering the “dangerous outbreak of misinformation” accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Secretary-General said on Monday during a virtual dialogue on promoting press freedom amid the global crisis, UN reports said.
António Guterres upheld the importance of impartial news media at a time when harmful health advice, hate speech and wild conspiracy theories are rising, and “blatant lies” are being spread online at a dizzying rate.
“The antidote to this pandemic of misinformation is fact-based news and analysis. It depends on media freedom and independent reporting”, he said.
The online dialogue was organized by UN educational and cultural agency, UNESCO, to mark World Press Freedom Day, celebrated annually on 3 May. Participants included journalists and media experts from across the globe, as well as representatives from governments and social media companies.
Truth: the ‘first casualty’ of the pandemic
Paraphrasing a well-known adage, UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay pointed out that just as in war, truth could be considered the “first casualty” of the coronavirus pandemic.
She called for people everywhere to defend and respect an independent and free press. Equally important is that media outlets must be responsible for the accuracy of their reports, which also should apply to “digital players” and social media.
“I’m very happy to see as well that more and more social media networks take action against disinformation, as they should, and it should be a rule and not an exception in a time of crisis”, said Ms. Azoulay.
Facebook fights ‘fake news’Monica Bickert, Vice-President for Content Policy at Facebook, outlined how the social media giant is tackling “fake news”, which she separated into two categories: disinformation, or intentionally trying to mislead the public; and misinformation, which occurs when someone shares false information, usually unknowingly.
Disinformation is usually financially motivated, and involves practices such as using fake accounts or buying “likes” to boost posts. Here the issue is finding and removing suspect content because it violates Facebook policies.
However, “misinformation is a much trickier problem”, she revealed.
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“We leverage a network of more than 60 fact-checking organizations…but basically the approach is if they tell us something is false, then we label that information, we put the fact-checker’s information next to it, and then we dramatically reduce the distribution of that content”.
In the current context, people who have previously shared or interacted with false COVID-19 information also receive a notification directing them to the respective fact-checking organization, she added.
UN tackles COVID-19 ‘infodemic’
In his speech, the UN chief outlined how the global Organization is taking action to counter what its health agency, WHO, has labeled an “infodemic” surrounding the new disease.
For example, the UN is working with social platforms to promote messages on keeping people safe and healthy, and countering lies and misinformation with facts and science.
“International organizations as well as governments, have an important role in promoting facts and scientific approaches”, he added, speaking in French.
“But no one during this pandemic can take the place of the media to transmit information and analysis to the public, and to counter rumours and misrepresentation.”
Journalists under threatThe Secretary-General thanked journalists and others working in media, such as those who fact-check stories and social media posts.
He also highlighted that pandemic aside, many journalists around the world have also faced threats, harassment and violent attacks, for doing their jobs, with nearly 60 killed just last year. Women are often targeted, such as Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima, winner of the 2020 World Press Freedom Day award.
Maria Ressa, an award-winning investigative journalist from The Philippines, who co-founded the Rappler website, said the pandemic is also having an impact on the business side of operations. As the country enters its eighth week of lockdown, little money has been trickling in from advertisers.
“We have to make sure that this extinction-level event does not actually knockout independent journalism”, she said.
#Canada; #CESB; CIF; #InternationalStudents; #CERB; #Lockdown; #Covid19; #CanadaPM
Toronto, May 2 (Canadian-Media): Lauding Canada's innumerable policy decisions taken to alleviate the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians, Canada India Foundation (CIF), in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, made an appeal to include international students in the Canada Emergency Student Benefits (CESB) program announced on 22 April, media reports said.
The CIF was taken aback at the exclusion of the international students from the purview of the CESB program, under which the federal government pledged to provide $1,250 per month for eligible students from May through August 2020, and $1,750 for students with dependents and those with permanent disabilities.
Circumstances of international students, said Anil Shah, Chair, CIF was in no way materially different from those of local students, and justifies their inclusion in this CESB.
Shah added that by not doing so, contributions made by international students to Canada's economy and to its post-secondary education system are being overlooked.
Anil Shah. Image credit: Website
The CESB program is meant for post-secondary students and recent graduates who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or for Employment Insurance (EI), but who are unable to find employment due to COVID-19.
In the communication to the Prime Minister, CIF clearly explained the dire situation of the international students due to the disruption of their academic programs, rescheduling or cancellation of their internships due to start in summer.
These students have also been deprived of their subsistence wages as most businesses have closed down due to lockdown implications.
Social distancing requirements have forced them to live in cramped places, with no chance of returning home.
Statistical information available in the public domain pertaining to the international students in Canada and their role in the Canadian economy was also provided by the CIF.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), population of international students increased by 13 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, which reached to 642,000.
Over the past 20 years, international student population has grown six-fold and in the last decade alone, it has tripled.
Statics reveal that over 2,25,000 of international students in Canada from India account for just under 350 percent since 2014.
Emphasizing the contribution of these students to the Canadian economy, Satish Thakkar, National Convener, CIF, accounts for around $22 billion, and it supports over 170,000 Canadian jobs and meet the shortage of skilled workers, by working part time while studying and working full time after completing their studies.
Satish Thakkar. Image credit: Website
Thakkar added that by supporting them at this very critical time Canada can encourage future flow of international students from all over the world.
In 2019, the Canadian Experience Class an immigration pathway designed for international students and foreign workers accounted for 34 percent of new immigrants in Canada.
Since the lockdown was introduced in Ontario, CIF has actively been helping international students from India who are facing financial and other challenges.
Recognizing the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on international students, CIF has been extensively outreaching to help them, said Pankaj Dave, National Co-Convener, CIF
Pankaj Dave. Image credit: Website
"But what will really help them is financial assistance. We urge the federal government to understand the plight of these international students and help them by including them in the CESB program,” said Dave.
#Ontario, #RapidIncreaseOfCovid19; #OntarioSchools; #Elearning; #OnlineEducation
Ottawa, Mar 31 (Canadian-Media): The addition of today's 260 new cases of COVID19 pandemic in Ontario causing its total to increase to nearly 2000 it has been decided by Ontario that all schools would remain closed until May, media reports said.
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter
CBC Toronto had been told by a senior government official that elementary and high school students in Ontario will be out of class until at least May.
Schools were initially set to re-open on April 6, but due to the rapid surge of COVID-19 cases in Ontario, it was agreed by booth Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephan Lecce that the closures would need to be prolonged.
An e-learning plan for the province's students during COVID-19 school closures is expected to be announced by Lecce.
The government is also considering online classes while school closures continue.
Publicly-assisted post-secondary institutions would hold online end-of-year exams.
#LibertyUniversity; #Virginia; #US; #COVID19Pandemic; #PublicHealthCrisis
Virginia, Mar 24 (Canadian-Media): Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian university, in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States, opened its doors to about 1,900 students at a time when countless universities have sent students home, media reports said.
Liberty University. Image credit: Twitter
During discussion held between the Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and other leaders whether to extend spring break and risk students having a longer time to become exposed to the virus, it was decided it was safer to bring the students back to campus.
Falwell's decision to bring students back to campus was against the guidance provided by state officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to statewide order issued by the Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Monday to help slow down the spread of coronavirus, gatherings of more than 10 people and goes into effect just before midnight on Tuesday.
The order also closes non-essential businesses and shuts down all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year.
Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy said she was both surprised and disappointed by President Falwell's most recent decision to allow students back on campus and added, "We are in the midst of a public health crisis. I am concerned for the students, faculty and employees at Liberty University, and I am also very concerned for the residents of the Lynchburg community."
Students had been given a choice by the university whether they wanted to return by filling out an online form with their intent.
Out of the student population of 14,000 to 15,000, about 1,900 students have returned to campus ass of Tuesday afternoon, Liberty University's spokesman Scott Lamb said.
Lamb added that university officials are prepared for about 5,000 students to return to campus.
Although the university said that it was complying with all state restrictions related to COVID-19 following a Virginia Department of Health inspection during its spring break after the state's 10 person limit on restaurants went into effect, however it is unclear if this is the right decision.
#ETFO; #OPSBA; #CTA
Toronto, Mar 21 (Canadian-Media): Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education issued the following statement today regarding a tentative agreement with the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA), and ETFO Education Workers and the Council of Trustees' Associations (CTA):
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter
"Our Government is pleased to announce a tentative agreement has been reached between the Crown, ETFO teachers and education workers, and the school boards trustees' associations.
This tentative ETFO agreement builds further momentum for deals and progress that students deserve, following last week's tentative agreement signed with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA).
We remain focused on landing further deals, to provide stability and certainty to students, parents, and educators."
#OntarioSchools; #ExtendMarchBreak; #DougFord; #OntarioEducation; #COVID19
Ottawa, Mar 12 (Canadian-Media): It was stated by Doug Ford's government that based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health publicly funded schools across will remain closed for two weeks following March break due to concerns about COVID-19, media reports said.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter
"We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe," the premier's office said in a statement.
It's unclear child-care centres or other school-based programs would be effected by the extended break.
In an earlier news conference in Toronto on Thursday, health officials advised that anyone returning from travel to avoid public or group gatherings and to monitor themselves for symptoms.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce told reporters Thursday afternoon that following the two-week period, the province will evaluate to see what other measures might be required.
In the meantime, extra sanitation resources and personal hygiene products would be provided by the province, Lecce said.
Lecce also said a plan is being finalized to ensure learning continues during this period but did not provide any more details.
With 17 new cases, including one infant, being confirmed earlier today, Ontario has a total of 59 cases of COVID-19.