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What activities can Manitoba students participate in? Your COVID-19 back-to-school questions answered

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Halfway through the first month of the school year, many parents still have questions about what activities and classes their children can participate in.

CBC News launched a survey asking parents for their most urgent questions as their children return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents wanted to know whether regular programs, such as physical education and band, as well as extra-curricular activities, like sports and musical theatre, would still be available. They also wanted to know how rules meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, such as mask-wearing, would be enforced in these settings. 

We looked at the Manitoba government’s guidelines, as well as the plans drafted by school divisions, to find some answers. 

Take our survey if you have any other questions you want answered.

What programs can schools offer during the pandemic?

Schools must follow provincial guidelines meant to limit the spread of the virus, including physical distancing and requiring the use of masks for all students and staff when a physical distance of two metres can’t be maintained.

This may mean that schools will have to modify how they offer certain programs, doing things like holding them outside, while other programs may be suspended or cancelled for the duration of the school year.

“Each sport, performing arts or recreational activity group/organization and/or facility must establish a plan to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission between participants and spectators,” the province says in its guidelines.

Who decides what programs are offered?

The province has issued general guidelines to school divisions on how to safely offer programs such as sports and music.

Decisions on which programs students can take, however, will be made by individual schools.

“Every school plan is different and responds to the school’s unique needs and options based on their space and students,” said Radean Carter, senior information officer for the Winnipeg School Division.

Parents should consult their school’s pandemic plan to find out which programs are offered. 

Will there be gym class?

The province recommends that physical education classes be held outdoors, as much as possible. In some cases, schools have been forced to repurpose gyms in order to provide more space for physical distancing, limiting the availability of these facilities.

“Indoor or outdoor non-contact sports (e.g. tennis and soccer) are permitted, as long as physical distancing can be maintained during the play, except for brief exchanges of close contact,” the province said.

What about school sports?

According to the Manitoba High School Athletics Association, some sports, such as football, have been approved to return to training and competition, with cohorting and restrictions on the number of people allowed on the field. Other sports, like volleyball, are allowed to resume training but not competition.

Others, like golf, soccer and cross country, are allowed to resume full play, with some modifications. 

Hockey teams can resume non-contact on-ice training in September, with the goal of resuming competitive play in October. 

Some school divisions, like St. James-Assiniboia School Division, are taking a more cautious approach and suspending school sports for the month of September, to be reassessed at the end of the month. 

Will music programs still be offered?

Due to the increased risk of spreading the virus through singing, the province has said that choir and musical theatre programs should not be offered.

“There have been multiple reports globally where participation in a choir has been associated as an event that led to the spread of COVID-19 to many people (also called a ‘super-spreader’ event),” the province said.

Like sports, the province recommends that music programs be modified to meet the needs for physical distancing. Preference should be given to outdoor venues, and the number of vocalists and instrumentalists should be limited small groups or soloists. 

Some school divisions have temporarily suspended music programs for the month of September.

How will students be protected during these activities?

The Province of Manitoba has issued detailed guidelines for assessing and mitigating the risk of recreational and musical activities

For sports, the province recommends taking a “layered” approach with multiple protective measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19. These include reducing the number of participants and spectators, and encouraging a focus on activities where distance can be maintained.

The province recommends wearing non-medical masks or face shields, if possible, in situations where distance can’t be maintained. However, the guidelines acknowledge this might not always be possible or desirable.

The province’s guidelines for musicians make no mention of masks, instead focusing on measures that ensure physical distance and good hygiene, like reducing the number of performers on stage and prohibiting the sharing of materials.


This story was made possible thanks to Manitobans who filled out CBC’s back-to-school survey. In it, we asked parents, teachers and students to send us their top questions and concerns about the unprecedented school year ahead. 

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Corrections watchdog urges moratorium on doctor-assisted deaths in Canadian prisons – Kamloops This Week

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Thanksgiving, large gatherings to blame for surge in COVID-19 cases in Ontario, officials say

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As Ontario saw record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases over the weekend, health officials on Monday are putting some of the blame on large gatherings that may have taken place over Thanksgiving two weeks ago. 

In York Region, 16 people, including three infants, are believed to have contracted the novel coronavirus following a Thanksgiving gathering. 

Three families gathered at a home in Vaughan over a span of two weeks around the Thanksgiving weekend.

At least one person attended despite having mild symptoms. 

One family member then went to work while symptomatic and infected two additional individuals. 

“Every time we socialize with anyone beyond our immediate household, there’s a risk that we enter into,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s medical officer of health. 

“This particular cluster illustrates that sort of a risk.”

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister Christine Elliott pointed at Thanksgiving gatherings as one of the factors for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. 

“We are also starting to see some of the numbers go down in some of the modified areas but because of the impacts of Thanksgiving, we’re not seeing that happening quite as quickly as we’d like to,” Elliott said.

Weddings, religious service exempt from provincial gathering limits

This past weekend, nearly 100 people, many without masks, congregated outside a Toronto church for a wedding on Saturday. 

A woman, whose identity CBC News agreed to protect because she fears repercussions from the community, was passing by when she saw the gathering and spoke out.

“It was wrong,” said the woman.

“It was going against everything we’re being asked to do right now and it gives the impression that what they’re doing matters more than keeping the rest of the people safe,” she said. 

Ontario has restricted gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors in areas that are in Stage 2 — Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

But religious services, like weddings — even in hotspots like Toronto — are exempt, as long as the venue is at less than 30 per cent capacity. 

In a briefing Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the rules may need to be changed.

“I think we have to take another look at those regulations,” he said. 

“Any large gathering, no matter how careful you are, has a certain risk associated with it.”

PC MPP under fire for maskless photo at indoor gathering

Meanwhile, a Progressive Conservative MPP is under fire for not wearing a mask while posing for a group photo.

Sam Oosterhoff posted the picture on social media over the weekend but later deleted it. 

“I think it was shocking,” said Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca on Monday. 

“I think it was inappropriate and I think there definitely needs to be consequences for Mr. Oosterhoff.”

Oosterhoff, who is also the parliamentary assistant to the education minister, apologized for the picture, saying he should have worn a mask when taking the photo, given the proximity of the people around him.

Critics have called for his resignation, saying he was not following his government’s pandemic guidance. 

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Premier Doug Ford said that’s not going to happen. 

“Hey guys, everyone makes mistakes,” said Ford. 

“I have 100 per cent confidence in Sam. He does a great job representing his area. People love him out there and he came out and apologized.”



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‘A community champion,’ philanthropist and former Ticats owner, David Braley dies at 79

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Hamilton is mourning the loss of David Braley, a former owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with three decades of success in the Canadian Football League, a supporter of sport in the city, and an honoured philanthropist. 

Braley, who had owned the BC Lions since 1997, passed away in his Burlington, Ont. home at age 79, says a media release from the team.  

In a tweet, Mayor of Hamilton Fred Eisenberger called Braley a “community champion.”

“David Braley’s contributions live on and continue to make our city a better place,” he wrote. “His passion for community, arts & sport was immeasurable.”

He also journeyed into politics, when former Prime Minster Stephen Harper appointed Braley to the Canadian Senate in 2010, where he served for nearly three years. 

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2019 “for his contributions to the Canadian Football League, and for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic leadership in his community.” 

His philanthropy was remembered in a tweet Monday from Hamilton Health Sciences which said “We are profoundly saddened by the passing of David Braley. He was a champion for the people of Hamilton and contributed so much to improving medical education and research to the benefit of the global community.”

In a media release Bob Young, caretaker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said “I and the Tiger-Cats mourn David’s passing. He was an enthusiastic Hamiltonian and a wonderful benefactor to our community’s hospitals and universities. The CFL and Hamilton communities have lost a great leader and champion today.”

The first team Braley owned in the Canadian Football League (CFL) was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1989 to 1992, when it returned to community ownership.

During his first season of ownership, the Ticats went to the Grey Cup.

“While David was well known for his role with the BC Lions, he was also always, at heart, a Ticat fan. Our sincerest condolences go out to David’s family, and his wide circle of friends and admirers across our community,” said Young. 

Braley went on to collect four Grey Cups during his time as an owner in the CFL. Three of them were with the BC Lions, and his last was with the Toronto Argonauts, which he owned from 2010 to 2015.

The Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. 

He also acted as chairman of the CFL’s Board of Governors and served as an interim commissioner from March to November in 2002. 

Braley was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2012), McMaster Sports Hall of Fame (2007) and Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2006).

Tributes to man whose name adorns buildings across the city are being posted on social media. 

Along with contributions to football, Braley championed sport in Hamilton by helping to bring the World Cycling Championships to the city in 2012. 

He was also part of southern Ontario’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which saw Tim Hortons Field host all 32 soccer matches. 

“David Braley…was our champion in every sense of the word,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement. 

“David didn’t just talk about this idea. He lived it. An owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as well as the Argos and Lions, he often stepped in to sustain and turn around franchises when they needed him the most.”

Braley was born in Montreal in 1941, but moved to Hamilton two years later. The Ticats say he discovered his true passion for football after attending his first Tiger-Cats game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. 

He played high school football at Westdale Secondary School, studied sciences at McMaster University, and worked with General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Hamilton and then with London Life Insurance.

In 1969, he purchased William Orlick Industries, which is now known as Orlick Industries, and transformed it into a leading manufacture of aluminum die-cast auto parts that provided hundreds of jobs in the Hamilton area. 

Braley has donated over $125 million to various organizations, says the Ticats media release. 

From August 2006 to June 2007, he donated $50 million to McMaster’s medical school and another $5 million for the university’s athletic centre, which is named after him. 

Braley also gave $10 million to Hamilton Health Sciences for a new cardiac, vascular and research institute, also named after the philanthropist, and $5 million to St. Joseph’s Healthcare for operating rooms and kidney care. 



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