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CTV News Kitchener

'Reclaiming our land': Indigenous leaders join KW Land Back Camp in calls for permanent space

Guests from Six Nations joined the Kitchener Waterloo Land Back Camp at Laurel Creek Conservation Area on Monday to reinforce calls for permanent land and space for Indigenous peoples.

Wellington Advertiser

Rachel Mulder named Youth Citizen of the Year in Centre Wellington

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Rachel Mulder has been named the Youth Citizen of the Year in Centre Wellington.

The 19-year-old Belwood resident was recognized by the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce for her years of volunteerism with a focus on horticulture.

The June 18 announcement was part of the chamber’s five-day Awards of Excellence event from June 14 to 18, featuring daily Facebook livestreams announcing a few award winners at a time.

“This award is presented to an individual under the age of 25, who makes outstanding contributions to our community,” stated Chamber of Commerce general manager Sally Litchfield, explaining leadership, work ethic and integrity are the main qualifying factors for the Youth Citizen of the Year award.

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As the winner, Mulder receives a bursary of $1,000 from RLB Chartered Professional Accountants.

“Firstly, of course, thanks to all the sponsors and congratulations to the other nominees and everyone this week who has deserved and gotten their awards…” said Mulder in her acceptance speech.

“I just want to say, I truly believe in the strength of community and our community, I’m very thankful that it has given me so many opportunities to contribute to it.

“I’ve definitely not done it alone, though; I’ve been coached and inspired by a lot of other volunteers in the awesome work that they do.”

In an interview with the Advertiser following the ceremony, Mulder listed some of the ways she has contributed to the community throughout the years, including:

  • serving lunches at her high school cafe;
  • singing in the choir at St Joseph Parish in Fergus; and
  • horticulture-related volunteering such as maintaining the gardens at the Wellington Terrace Long-Term Care Facility in Aboyne and participating with the Fergus Horticultural Society.

“My favourite thing is to make those lasting connections,” said Mulder on why she volunteers, adding gardening may seem like a small thing, but it brings so much joy and peace.

At the start of the pandemic she also assembled care packages and delivered them to friends and community members.

“It makes people feel like they matter,” she said.

Currently attending Fanshawe College’s horticulture technician program, Mulder hopes to one day own a wildflower farm that could be used as a community-oriented event venue.

Mulder emphasized the importance of volunteering, and the positive impact it’s had on her.

“I just want to encourage all young people to take the opportunity to do something… for the community,” she said.

Lori Cipparrone, secretary at St. Joseph Parish, said she appreciates Mulder as “an active participant” in the church community.

“She’s been a terrific volunteer,” said Cipparonne, who noted Mulder’s many contributions include serving food and cleaning tables during church events, as well as helping her family “look after the Christmas float every year.”

Cipparrone added Mulder is “always happy and upbeat; you’re happy to see her coming.”

The post Rachel Mulder named Youth Citizen of the Year in Centre Wellington appeared first on Wellington Advertiser.

CTV News Kitchener

Police searching for suspect after convenience store robbery in Cambridge

Police are investigating a Sunday morning robbery at a convenience store near Christopher Drive and Champlain Boulevard in Cambridge.

CTV News Kitchener

Waterloo Catholic school board seeking applicants to vacant trustee positions

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) is seeking applicants to fill two trustee vacancies representing Kitchener and Wilmot after two trustees resigned last month.

Global News: Kitchener

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility accelerated in Ontario

On Monday morning, Ontario residents who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 9 became eligible to book their second dose. Shallima Maharaj reports.

Global News: Kitchener

Doug Ford targeting ‘905’ voters with Ontario cabinet shuffle: experts

Doug Ford’s cabinet shuffle goes more young and diverse and is aiming to secure votes in the so-called 905 belt, according to experts. Kamil Karamali reports.

Global News: Kitchener

When will it be safe for Canadians to resume international travel?

With the federal government beginning to ease travel restrictions for Canadians and permanent residents, many are wondering what it will take to resume fun travel. Vaccinations are only part of the puzzle, as Matthew Bingley reports, planning will play a key part in future trips.

CTV News Kitchener

Kitchener man arrested after three break and enters earlier this month

Police have arrested a 24-year-old Kitchener man in connection with three break and enters that happened at area businesses earlier in June.

CTV News Kitchener

Police investigating sexual assault at Cambridge business

Waterloo regional police are investigating after reports of a sexual assault at a business near Hespeler Road and Bishop Street North in Cambridge.

Global News: Kitchener

Canada’s COVID-19 quarantine rules change July 5

Two doses of a Government of Canada-approved vaccine will be a traveller’s ticket to avoiding a quarantine in a hotel or even at home. As Sean O’Shea reports, the new rules won’t necessarily help vaccinated parents travelling with children.

Global News: Kitchener

Some Canadians denied Moderna COVID-19 shots amid Pfizer delays

With limited supplies of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week, clinics in Ontario are only administering Moderna shot for adults.

CTV News Kitchener

Cambridge Crunch Fitness says 'technical error' resulted in members being charged fees while gym remains closed

Some members at a Cambridge Crunch Fitness claim money has been coming out of their accounts despite the gym being closed for months. The company said the mistake is the result of a technical error.

CTV News Kitchener

13 vehicles impounded, 70 tickets issued after police break up weekend car rallies in Waterloo Region

Police impounded more than a dozen vehicles and doled out 70 tickets following car rallies in Waterloo Region this weekend.

Global News: Kitchener

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delays hit Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph

WDG Public Health says most adults will receive the Moderna vaccine while the remaining Pfizer supply will be prioritized for those between the ages of 12 and 17.

CTV News Kitchener

Q & A: Region of Waterloo Public Health discusses latest deaths, outbreaks and the Delta variant

CTV Kitchener spoke to Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rabia Bana about the latest cases and deaths in the Waterloo Region, along with outbreaks and vaccinations.

Global News: Kitchener

Ontario reports lowest daily new COVID-19 cases since September

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams reported on Monday 270 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest daily case count since September. The doctor said the province’s seven-day average continues to decline, currently at 334 cases as more people are getting vaccinated.

Global News: Kitchener

“Love is Blind” stars Cameron Hamilton and Lauren Speed-Hamilton

“Love is Blind” duo Cameron Hamilton and Lauren Speed-Hamilton join The Morning Show to discuss their new book ‘Leap of Faith’ and what it was like to fall in love without ever having laid eyes on each other.

Global News: Kitchener

Parenting Playbook: Tips to manage your kids’ expectations on report cards

Parenting expert Alyson Schafer joins The Morning Show to discuss how another year at home learning could be reflected in your child’s grades and if parents should be concerned for September.

Global News: Kitchener

National Indigenous Peoples Day

Big Brother Canada star Kiefer Collison and actor Shayla Oulette Stonechild join The Morning Show to talk about National Indigenous Peoples Day and the importance of acknowledging Indigenous history as Canadian history.

Global News: Kitchener

Waterloo Region says ION Phase 2 project assessment approved by province

Waterloo Region says it can now ask the federal and provincial governments for financial aid to move Stage 2 of the ION LRT project forward.

Global News: Kitchener

Another 7,800 COVID-19 vaccines given in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph

Public health is reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19 in Guelph Monday, as the city’s total case count climbed to 4,489.

Global News: Kitchener

Another 20,000 people vaccinated in Waterloo Region

More than 20,000 people received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the area over the weekend, according to Waterloo Region’s vaccine distribution task force.

Wellington Advertiser

Matt Ottens family fundraiser reaches $155,000 following June 13 tragedy

By Dan McNee, Midwestern Newspapers

MAPLETON – As a family and community continue to mourn the sudden passing of Matt Ottens following a tragic incident at Conestogo Lake, the overwhelming public response to a fundraiser initiated by a close friend has provided some comfort and support.

In only a week’s time, an online GoFundMe account named in Matt’s honour and benefitting his wife, Leona, and their four children, has closed in on $155,000 as of Monday.

Ottens died on June 13 while attempting to assist a child who had gone overboard from a boat off which the family was swimming on Conestogo Lake that afternoon.

The child was pulled safely from the water, but the 33-year-old never resurfaced.

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Graham Brown, whose family has become very close to the Ottens family over the last few years, launched the fundraiser as a way to help out Leona and her children.

Brown is the owner of New U Personal Training Studio in Listowel along with his wife, Alison. Matt and Leona began utilizing their gym as clients several years ago, before Leona was hired on as a personal trainer.

Their friendships grew quickly, with Graham and Matt establishing a weekly Sunday morning workout routine as well as playing on the same indoor soccer team together.

The two friends were able to share one last workout only a few hours before Matt died.

“It’s still really surreal. Just trying to explain and understand it,” said Brown, who added Matt had helped him move a desk following their last workout – just a small example of how Matt never hesitated to enthusiastically assist others.

“It’s a horrible thing. Matt was such an awesome guy. Really well loved, just a positive, happy guy. That’s just who he was.

“He was there for everyone in his life. Anything you needed, he was there.”

Brown said he initially set a goal of $13,000 on the GoFundMe page because 13 was a number Matt liked, and simply because the site had asked for one.

“I didn’t know what to ask for. I just thought $13,000, that’ll be enough to get a little bit of relief for them,” said Brown of the Ottens family.

“God just thought he’d add a zero. It’s funny how it all works. It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of support.”

He added, “It speaks volumes to a couple things. One, who Matt was, and who his family is and the deep connections they have within this community and more broadly.

“The other thing is, the tragedy of it all. With the internet nowadays, the spread has been immense. People just want to help in some way, and they want to honour him in some way.”

With the total now well surpassing the initial goal, Brown said he was able to tell Leona that she wouldn’t have to worry about her children’s education expenses for the foreseeable future.

“It’s an honour to be able to do that, and at the same time, a horrible thing to have to do,” he said.

“That’s the duality of this whole thing. It’s very hard to describe.”

Brown thanked the community for its generosity, through individual, business and organizational donations.

“We appreciate their support. Listowel, Drayton, Moorefield and the surrounding area has been an immense blessing,” he said.

“To our family, it never ceases to amaze us how they tend to step up at times like this.

“It’s just a comfort to know that we have such amazing people who are so caring, compassionate and generous.”

The GoFundMe account for the Ottens family can be found at gofundme.com by searching “Matt Ottens Memorial Fund.”

The account will remain active for approximately one more week as donations continue to come in.

“The one thing that I know which has been good for all of them, is that they know where Matt is,” said Brown of the Ottens family.

“Matt was Christian, his family and my family would say grace together before meals, we’d pray and talk about God together and listen to music.

“They know Matt’s with God. That relief is something that is unexplainable, when you have a certainty in knowing that he’s okay and he’s in a better place.”

The post Matt Ottens family fundraiser reaches $155,000 following June 13 tragedy appeared first on Wellington Advertiser.

CTV News Kitchener

Waterloo Region adds 61 new COVID-19 cases Monday as hospitalizations, outbreaks rise

Health officials in Waterloo Region logged 61 new COVID-19 infections Monday, continuing the trend of an alarming spike in cases and hospitalizations in the community.

Global News: Kitchener

Woman charged with arson in Guelph motel fire: police

Emergency crews were called to the Super 8 motel at Woodlawn Road and Silvercreek Parkway on May 27.

Global News: Kitchener

Ontario man pleads guilty to trying to join ISIS, charges against wife to be dropped

The case of Ikar Mao and Haleema Mustafa was addressed Monday at the Brampton, Ont. courthouse.

Global News: Kitchener

Ontario accelerating 2nd-dose vaccine eligibility again

Ontario is accelerating second-dose eligibility those who received their first shots on or before May 9. Shallima Maharaj has more.

Wellington Advertiser

Public health reports 21 new COVID-19 cases in region over weekend

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) is reporting 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend (June 18 to 20).

The region’s active case count now sits at 55, down from 71 on June 14, and the lowest it has been since early November.

Active cases in the region peaked with a record high of 679 on April 18.

The region’s case rate per 100,000 population also continues to drop dramatically, from 96.8 in the first week of May to 11.9 as of June 19.

As of June 17, 2.2 per cent of COVID-19 tests are returning positive for the virus.

There are three people hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of June 17, with two in intensive care at either Guelph General Hospital or Headwaters Health Care in Orangeville (Wellington County hospitals do not have ICUs).


Across the health unit to date there have been 2,088 confirmed cases of the Alpha (UK) variant, a single case of the Beta (South African) variant, 60 cases of the Gamma (Brazilian) variant, and 33 of the Delta (Indian) variant.

On June 10, the province declared the WDGPH region a COVID-19 “hotspot” due to the presence of the Delta variant.

An additional 186 individuals have screened positive for a variant of concern not yet identified.

Local trends

Wellington County had five new cases over the weekend, bringing the total active cases in the county to 10, up from eight on June 14, but a significant decrease from the record high of 122 set on April 19.

To date, there have been six cases in Wellington County identified as the Delta (Indian) variant.

Dufferin County has 11 active cases as of June 21, down from 20 reported on June 14.

Guelph has 32 active cases as of June 21, down from 43 on June 14.

The death toll across the region remains unchanged from last week, with 123 COVID-related fatalities, including 40 in Wellington County.

Municipality-specific active COVID-19 case counts as of June 21, 2021. (WDGPH image)



Since June 14, another 7,758 residents in the WDGPH region have received at least one vaccine dose, bringing the total as of June 21 to 201,722 residents or 74.8% of the population aged 12 or older.

As of June 21, 68.8% of Wellington County’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated.

Public health was aiming to have 75% of the region’s eligible population at least partially vaccinated by June.

To date, 50,546 residents, or 18.7% of the eligible population in the WDGPH region, are fully vaccinated.

At least 249,660 doses have been administered in the region to date.

There are currently no facility or childcare centre outbreaks and four workplace outbreaks in the WDGPH region.

The post Public health reports 21 new COVID-19 cases in region over weekend appeared first on Wellington Advertiser.

Global News: Kitchener

Guelph police asking for help in finding missing man

Guelph police say a missing man is driving a red Ford Escape with Ontario licence plate CFMA 104. 

Global News: Kitchener

Ontario reports 270 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Ontario administered 118,625 vaccines (20,205 for a first shot and 98,420 for a second) in the last day. Two-dose coverage sits at 24.4 per cent with 76.1 per cent for a first.

Global News: Kitchener

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipping delay forces Waterloo Region pivot towards Modena vaccine

A shipping delay for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has caused Waterloo Region to put a pause on using the vaccine for anyone over the age of 17.

Observer Extra

Police Investigating Hate-Motivated Graffiti near Greencroft Court in Kitchener

Crime of the Week: June 21, 2021           Case#: 1767 Offence: Hate-Motivated Graffiti           Date: May 11, 2021 Location: GREENCROFT…

The post Police Investigating Hate-Motivated Graffiti near Greencroft Court in Kitchener appeared first on THE OBSERVER.

The Record

Waterloo Region’s class of 2021 are marking the end of a school year unlike anything that has come before

WATERLOO REGION — Ashley Mayhew will be at her computer, sitting alone at her kitchen table for her last Grade 12 class of the year.

“That will be really hard for me when that day comes,” said the Preston High School graduate and student council co-president.

On Monday — a couple of days before her final high school class — Mayhew and her parents will drive to Preston High School, pick up a graduation gift at the 3 p.m. time slot they booked, and take a photo under a balloon archway.

It will mark the end of a school year that has been anything but normal.

There were no lockers or hallway catch-ups between classes. There were no lunches in the cafeteria or in-person sports and clubs.

“We’re just stuck at a screen where we don’t really socialize and we don’t really get to see each other,” said Dominique Nedd, a Grade 12 student and track athlete at Glenview Park Secondary School in Cambridge.

“You lose a lot of friends because you realize how much you depend on physical interaction to actually make those connections,” said Nedd. “I would describe it as really lonely.”

Schools have been shuttered since mid-April. Throughout the year students have yo-yoed between the in-person and online classroom as COVID-19 cases spiked and dipped in the province.

Students who chose to learn in-person (during the months when schools were open) were split into groups, or “cohorts,” that alternated five days spent in school and five days spent learning online. This was done to minimize any potential for COVID-19 spread.

“What we think of as high school has changed so much,” said Vida Collis, principal of Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School in Waterloo.

When students were going to school in person, Collis would greet them in the morning as they lined up at their assigned school entrance. She gave them each a squirt of hand sanitizer as they headed to their classrooms with masks on while staying two metres apart.

“It was kind of — you just wake up, you go to school for two and a half hours and one class,” explained Jayden Mazza, a student at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School. “You stay put (and) maybe, if you’re lucky, your teacher takes you on a walk and then that’s about it. You go home.”

Oftentimes, Maddie Reid of Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School would think it was strange to know her friends were somewhere in the school but she wasn’t able to see them during the day.

When classes moved online, Reid established a routine at home.

“I’ll have a Google Meet at like 8:30 a.m., so I’ll probably wake up 20 minutes before class starts, grab some breakfast and just sit down and start those Google Meets, which run for about two hours,” she explained.

Then she would break for about 45 minutes before heading into another online class.

While it has been challenging to adapt to a new way of learning, she said it has also been rewarding to pick up new skills. She found she is pretty good at learning virtually but admits it has been lonely at times.

While Ashley Mayhew was still able to organize and help host virtual events for students at school, like Thursday night hangouts on Google Meet, not being able to connect in person with friends and teachers at her school has been hard.

“It’s been a really big struggle for me not to be able to see staff,” she said. “Those are the people I go to when I have things I need to talk about.”

She said she hit a low point earlier this year and was able to meet with a school social worker.

“It definitely was an eye-opening experience and now I realize that there are positives that came out of this,” she said.

Dr. Barbara Ward is the mental health lead for the Waterloo Region District School Board and said her team is seeing some students struggle who never did before the pandemic and others who struggled before the pandemic who are still struggling. But, there are also students who are doing well.

She said students have been saying they are “feeling significant loss and are grieving the lack of connection and social relationships outside of the home.”

There’s also a loss of some relationships and activities that would have helped them prepare for their future and help them to build an identity beyond where they were in Grade 11, she added.

“It’s been a strange year to reach developmental milestones,” said Ward.

But she doesn’t want to present all “doom and gloom” because amid all the adversity there are many moments of resiliency.

“We can’t underestimate the stress and toll it places on them but we can’t underestimate their resiliency, their optimism and how inspiring they are,” said Collis, principal at Sir John A. Macdonald.

Earlier this year, Collis’s school launched an informal survey asking students what was their biggest take-away from the pandemic was.

“The No. 1 response was not to take things for granted,” she said, noting about 400 students participated.

And when students were asked what the best thing to come out of the pandemic year was, many said spending more time with family.

Grade 12 Forest Heights Collegiate Institute student Iman Asad spent the entire year learning virtually at home. Asad is the middle child in a family of five and for most of the school year, her family lived in a two-bedroom apartment. Her parents and her siblings decided to work and learn from home to keep each other safe from COVID.

The past year has brought her closer to her family. She listened to family stories from her parents and bonded with her brothers over card games.

“It helped me understand them better (and) helped them understand me better,” she said.

And like many students, the student council co-president found ways to participate in school activities and to complete volunteer work without being at school in person.

She organized a virtual stem cell registry clinic at school with the help of the Canadian Blood Services. And she helped plan her school’s virtual graduation ceremony.

“I’ve been in touch with a lot of other co-presidents from different schools and the different projects that they’ve done, and just how they have found ways to virtually incorporate their interests within the school, it’s just so inspiring,” she said.

In addition to navigating school, university and college applications and virtual activities during the pandemic, many Grade 12 students have also worked part-time jobs.

“They’re working at Food Basics, they’re working at Sobeys, they’re working at the retirement centres that are close by to us, they’re working at Starbucks,” said Collis. “They’re our essential workers too.”

Mazza started working as a cashier at a grocery store last year when COVID-19 hit. He’s grateful for the work and said it gives him a chance to interact with people in person — something he’s really been missing.

“I think without that, my social interaction skills and just people skills would probably be non-existent right now,” he said.

Dominique Nedd worked two part-time jobs over the year — one in retail and another at the Hespeler Arena. But the track athlete, who also enjoys playing basketball, volleyball and soccer, found it hard to go the year without in-person athletics.

Despite the disappointments and challenges, Nedd says she has experienced a lot of personal growth.

“I think that everybody needs to learn to also be alone,” she said. “We can’t depend on everyone to bring us our own happiness.”

She also developed a stronger relationship with her younger sister. And, her family got a pandemic puppy they named Milo.

“(He’s) created a different energy inside the house,” she laughed. “It’s way more exciting and interesting.”

St. David Secondary School student Logan Nijhuis decided to take on new hobbies so he wasn’t “just playing video games all day.”

“It was the perfect time to try new things,” said Nijhuis. “ I picked up bass guitar, fishing — a bunch of new hobbies.”

And Maddie Reid, who was in dance and competitive volleyball before the pandemic, also switched gears.

“I ended up starting a YouTube channel for my school with two other students,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic, she had never edited a video in her life, but this past year she’s been creating weekly content for her school’s social media channels. It’s called the Razzle Dazzle broadcast.

“We decided that we wanted to find a way that we could keep our community connected and bring some school spirit,” she said, adding that editing videos has become a passion of hers.

For Mazza, spending more time with his mom and sister during the week, has been a positive.

His mom is a kindergarten teacher and he often overhears her as she runs lessons upstairs over her computer.

“I think it’s amazing that even three and four-year-olds can do this,” said Mazza. “It kind of gives me hope. I can’t be complaining about this online stuff because three and four-year-olds are able to participate in an online call. I think it’s amazing.”

As the school year draws to an end this month, many students are attending virtual graduation activities and will drop by their schools to take a final picture and receive a graduation package.

For those she will not get a chance to say goodbye to, student Ashley Mayhew asked to leave a parting message:

“If anyone from my school is reading (this), since I am not going to be able to say bye to them, I don’t know if you can add something just saying that I am very grateful and thankful for everyone.”

Laura Booth is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach her via email: lbooth@therecord.com

The Record

Today’s coronavirus news: Canada to unveil travel rules for fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents; Accelerated second dose eligibility expands across Ontario Monday

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:15 a.m. Changes to quarantine rules at the border will go into place for some fully vaccinated people beginning July 5, the federal government announced Monday.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and others already eligible to enter Canada and who have two doses of a Health Canada approved vaccine won’t have to quarantine, but will still need COVID-19 tests before they leave for Canada and once they arrive.

They’ll have to prove they are fully vaccinated, by keeping a paper or digital copy of their vaccine record, and uploading that and other related COVID-19 information into the government’s ArriveCAN application or website.

The government said Monday that anyone who submits false information on their vaccination status could be fined up to $750,000 or face six months imprisonment, or both.

Read the full story from the Star’s Stephanie Levitz

9:10 a.m. Indonesian health authorities announced the country's largest one-day jump in new coronavirus infections on Monday, as the number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began crossed 2 million.

The Health Ministry reported 14,536 new infections and 294 deaths, bringing the country's total confirmed fatalities to more than 54,950. Both the total cases and total deaths are the most in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, has seen infections surge in recent weeks, a climb that has been blamed on travel during last month’s Eid al-Fitr holiday as well as the arrival of new virus variants, such as the the Delta version first found in India.

The surge is putting pressure on hospitals, including in Jakarta, where 80 per cent of hospital beds are full, and has added urgency to the government's plan to inoculate 1 million people each day by next month. Authorities have so far only fully vaccinated 12.3 million of Indonesia's 270 million people and partially vaccinated another 10.9 million.

The World Health Organization last week said Indonesia’s drastic increase in hospital bed occupancy rates is a major concern and necessitates stricter public health and social measures, including large-scale social restrictions.

The government has resisted a large-scale lockdown due to fears of the economic impact. Offices, restaurants. shopping malls and places of worship remain open, though at 50 per cent of their capacity.

9 a.m. Scotland's leader has defended the ban on non-essential travel between the country and the northwestern England city of Manchester after its mayor lambasted the decision and called for businesses to be compensated.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Monday that the ban on people from Manchester and nearby Salford entering Scotland was taken on public health grounds based on COVID levels in the area, which was one of the first parts of England to witness the spread of the delta variant first identified in India.

New coronavirus infections around the Greater Manchester area are running higher than most places in England. Recent surveys point to around one in 200 people in the Greater Manchester area having the virus, three times higher than the rates of infection in Scotland.

“These are public health measures,” Sturgeon told the BBC. “I have a duty, and it’s one I take very seriously, to keep Scotland as safe as possible.”

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said the ban, which came into force on Monday, was disproportionate and had “come out of the blue.” He said he thinks the Scottish government should compensate businesses that are set to suffer from the ban.

Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party which wants to take Scotland out of the U.K., countered by suggesting that Burnham, one of the highest-profile politicians in the Labour Party, was playing politics.

“I’ve always got on well with Andy Burnham and if he wants to have a grown-up conversation, he only has to pick up the phone but if, as I suspect might be the case, this is more about generating a spat with me as part of some positioning in a Labour leadership contest in future, then I’m not interested," Sturgeon said.

8:45 a.m. A limited number of local fans will be allowed to attend the Tokyo Olympics, organizers announced Monday as they tried to save some of the spirit of the Games where even cheering has been banned.

Organizers set a limit of 50 per cent capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans — for each Olympic venue, and officials said that if coronavirus cases rise again the rules could be changed and fans could still be barred all together. Spectators from abroad were banned several months ago, and now some local fans who have tickets will be forced to give them up.

The decision comes as opposition among Japanese to holding the Games in July remains high, though may be softening, and as new infections in Tokyo have begun to subside.

8:20 a.m. If you’re reading this and you have school-aged children, you have likely experienced the hair-tugging frustration of technology the past 15 months as your kids struggle to adjust to online learning.

Now take a moment to imagine the challenges students living in low-income communities are facing.

Many are living in small, busy apartments with multiple family members. Many of these families can’t afford a computer or a webcam even if they could afford the reliable connection needed for video learning — and many parents are having to choose between putting food on the table and an internet connection so their children can continue learning. This means food insecurity is also often a considerable issue, and we all know how hard it is to concentrate when we’re hungry. To make matters more challenging, many teenagers must take on additional work to help contribute to the family’s bills. That’s time away from learning.

7:45 a.m. Cars, furniture, shelter, gas, groceries, lumber, barbecue meats; it’s all costing more according to new data from the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Around this time last year much of what a household purchased was a lower cost because we were at the front end of the pandemic, and the demand for consumer goods dropped rapidly while Canadians squirrelled away savings, if they could afford to do so.

It appears the brief era of widespread savings opportunities is coming to abrupt end as the economy reopens and “normal” consumption of goods (e.g. clothes and shoes) and services (e.g. drinks on a patio) resumes.

Try these techniques to brace yourself for higher costs, and still be able to save.

7:30 a.m. Starting on Sunday, adults in Toronto who booked COVID vaccine appointments at city mass clinics will receive Moderna, regardless of their first dose. Peel vaccine clinics will start using Moderna for all adult appointments on Monday.

Toronto announced the change amid a delay of a Pfizer-BioNTech shipment of more than 162,000 doses that was supposed to arrive in freezers on June 21.

“While Team Toronto vaccination partners are facing a shipment delay, we must not delay the quick administration of doses,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, in a statement.

Children and teens aged 12 to 17 will still get Pfizer, as that’s the only vaccine that’s approved for them.

Read the full story from the Star’s May Warren

7:20 a.m. The number of workers claiming paid sick days under Ontario’s temporary benefit program has almost doubled over the past week, as the province expedites second doses in a bid to limit the spread of the Delta variant.

Ministry of Labour data provided to the Star shows a sudden uptick in sick-leave claims — and while the ministry can’t confirm a link between vaccine availability, it says the majority of sick days taken are for “vaccine-related reasons.”

As of this week, over 10,800 Ontario workers have taken days off as part of the temporary sick-day program introduced in April. Last week, that number was just over 5,800.

But despite the sudden surge, Deena Ladd of the Toronto-based Workers Action Centre says the overall number of claims is “minuscule.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh

7:10 a.m. The England team says every player and member of the coaching staff was negative in the latest round of coronavirus testing.

The PCR tests took place on Sunday. That was two days after the team played Scotland at Wembley Stadium. Scotland says midfielder Billy Gilmour has tested positive for COVID-19.

England says officials remain in contact with Public Health England and that the squad trained on the eve of the final Group D match against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

6:49 a.m.: (updated) Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs, is transforming into a massive COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Sunday.

The city said Monday it aims to vaccinate more than 10,000 people aged 12 and up at the arena in an event called “Our Winning Shot” co-hosted with Scotiabank and teams owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

Organizers promise a special experience and festive atmosphere including appearances by the Raptors and Leafs mascots.

Eligible people can pre-book their appointment starting at 8 a.m. Monday through the online system, by clicking the dark blue button, or by calling 1-833-943-3900.

Anybody aged 12 or older can book a first-dose appointment. Second-dose appointments will be available for anyone who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before May 9, or AstraZeneca on or before May 1.

Read the full story from the Star’s David Rider

6:34 a.m.: What will school look like in Ontario this September?

Quebec has already announced that students won’t have to wear masks, and cohorts aren’t needed — as parents and students here in Ontario begin to push for a normal return to school, especially for teens who should be fully vaccinated by then, along with their teachers.

“We need them to be back to normal,” said Toronto mom Tammy Doane, one of three local parents who started a lawn-sign campaign, with 900 now up on lawns in and around the city and York Region.

Kids “were pulled out of school 16 months ago, basically to save our lives,” she said. “And now parents and grandparents, we are 95 per cent safer than we were before (with full vaccinations), so now it’s time for us to save their lives.”

As kids have struggled with learning from home online, as well as the isolation from friends, she said they need to be back in school, in person, full time with extracurriculars and clubs.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy.

6:28 a.m.: The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday.

Organizers set a limit of 50 per cent of capacity up to a maximum of 10,000 fans for all Olympic venues.

The decision was announced after so-called Five Party talks online with local organizers, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Japanese government and the government of metropolitan Tokyo.

The decision contradicts the country’s top medical adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi, who recommended last week that the safest way to hold the Olympics would be without fans. He had previously called it “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during the pandemic.

The Tokyo Games are set to open on July 23.

Local organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said it was important to acknowledge the uncertainty around the pandemic during the games.

6:28 a.m.: Medical regulators in New Zealand have approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in children as young as 12, following the lead of regulators in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

The decision by Medsafe was welcomed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, although it still needs official sign-off from the government, which is likely later this month.

The Pfizer vaccine was previously approved in New Zealand for people aged 16 and older.

Ardern said about 265,000 extra children would be eligible under the expanded coverage, although she didn’t believe it would alter plans to complete the nation’s coronavirus vaccination rollout by the year’s end.

New Zealand plans to use only the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate its population of 5 million.

6:28 a.m.: A top health official is urging Australians to get their second doses of AstraZeneca despite deaths from the vaccine exceeding the nation’s COVID-19 death toll this year.

Two women in Australia have died from rare blood clots caused by the vaccine. The only COVID-19 fatality this year was an 80-year-old traveller who died in April after being infected overseas and diagnosed in hotel quarantine.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told state leaders on Monday that health authorities did not recommend people follow up their first AstraZeneca dose with a different vaccine. Globally, the safety and effectiveness of switching vaccines between doses is still being tested.

He urged people not to cancel their second AstraZenca jab, which is booked three months after the first, saying the chances of developing blood clots after a second dose were 1.5 in a million.

COVID-19 has claimed 910 lives in Australia, but vaccine hesitancy is on the rise as the death rate slows.

Australia last week lifted its recommended age limit for AstraZeneca from 50 to 60 after a 52-year-old woman died of clots. A 48-year-old woman died in April.

Pfizer is currently the only alternative to AstraZeneca in Australia, although Moderna is expected to be registered soon. The government hopes that every Australian adult who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of the year.

6:26 a.m.: Canada is set to detail what quarantine rules citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will soon have to follow when entering the country.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said last week that “measures” would be announced today that will apply to immunized Canadians, as well as foreign nationals who are permitted entry.

Currently, those without citizenship or resident status can enter the country only if their travel is related to work, school or other essential business, but not for leisure.

As more Canadians get inoculated against COVID-19 and summer weather has people itching to take some long-awaited trips, pressure is building for the Liberal government to begin relaxing some of its border and quarantine rules.

Over the weekend the country hit an important target of having 75 per cent of its eligible population receive one dose and 20 per cent get two, providing the latter group with full protection against COVID-19.

6:26 a.m.: More Ontarians become eligible for an earlier second dose of COVID-19 vaccine this week.

Starting this morning at 8 a.m., those who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 9 can book or reschedule their second dose at a shortened interval.

People in Delta variant hot spots who received first shots on or before May 30 can move up their second shots on Wednesday.

Health units covering Toronto, Peel, Halton, Porcupine, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Waterloo and York, Hamilton, Simcoe-Muskoka and Durham are considered hot spots for the more infectious variant.

The province says that starting sometime next week, it plans to allow all adults who received a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s product to book a second appointment as soon as 28 days after their initial shot.

As of last week, the province allowed people who received a first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to book their second shot earlier.

They must wait at least eight weeks before getting their second dose.

6:25 a.m.: Canada is set to receive more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine over the coming week.

Around 2.4 million are expected to come from Pfizer and BioNTech, though that shipment isn’t slated to land until mid-week and has prompted some jurisdictions to temporarily pause walk-in appointments or make use of other vaccines due to the brief delay.

Another 2.8 million will come from Moderna, for a total of 5.2 million shots expected this week.

The federal government says about nine million doses came into the country last week as Canada officially immunized more than 20 per cent of eligible residents with two shots of vaccine.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand has said Canada is on track to receive more than 50 million doses by the end of June, thanks in part to Moderna’s decision to ship about five million shots ahead of schedule.

She said Ottawa is on pace to take delivery of more than 68 million jabs by the end of July.

6:25 a.m.: Three more regions in Quebec are moving into the green, or least restrictive, level of the province’s COVID-19 response plan as of today.

The regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec will join much of the rest of the province in attaining the coveted level that allows for further easing of public health measures.

The zone change will relax restrictions including limits on gatherings in homes, which can host up to 10 people from three different addresses. In yellow zones, only two families are permitted.

The changes come as Quebec continues its downward trajectory of COVID-19 infections, with case numbers generally on the decline since mid-April when daily counts routinely topped 1,500.

Meanwhile, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé is encouraging Quebecers inoculated against COVID-19 to get their proof of vaccination if they haven’t done so already.

In a tweet Sunday, Dubé posted a link to the provincial government’s website where vaccination validation can be obtained.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday June 21, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 352,550 new vaccinations administered for a total of 32,171,232 doses given.

Nationwide, 7,083,620 people or 19 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 84,886.136 per 100,000. There were 13,016 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 34,687,930 doses delivered so far.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday June 21, 2021. Some provinces and territories do not report daily case numbers.

There are 1,408,835 confirmed cases in Canada.

Canada: 1,408,835 confirmed cases (11,759 active, 1,371,000 resolved, 26,076 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 712 new cases reported Sunday. The rate of active cases is 30.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,500 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 929.

There were 22 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 145 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.05 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 68.61 per 100,000 people.

There have been 36,111,298 tests completed.

Global News: Kitchener

Suspect in London, Ont. attack on Muslim family to return to court June 28

A man facing terrorism charges for allegedly targeting and killing a Muslim family with his truck in southwestern Ontario is set to appear in court Monday morning.

Global News: Kitchener

Accelerated 2nd dose eligibility expands across Ontario for those with 1st shot before May 9

Starting Monday at 8 a.m., those who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 9 can book or reschedule their second dose at a shortened interval.

Global News: Kitchener

What are the odds of a COVID-19 lab leak? Re-examining the virus origins theory

It may seem like a plot out of a sci-fi movie, but experts say a lab-leak theory -- as the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic -- is worth investigating.

The Record

A luxury homebuilder tore down a Toronto heritage home without a permit. What happens next could test Ontario’s heritage rules

There’s a large pile of rubble — wood and cladding jutting out at all angles — where a handsome heritage home recently stood in the leafy, picturesque neighbourhood of Hoggs Hollow.

The owner started the demolition on the 1912 Tudor Revival-style home in the northern enclave of the city over the May long weekend without a permit, he admitted to the Star in an interview this week, and just months after the city council listed the building as a heritage home.

He disputes the property being listed as heritage by the city, citing independent assessment by an architecture firm he hired.

The sudden demolition has dismayed the local community after city staff and council recognized the home at 19 Plymbridge Cres. as a “rare and unique” conversion of a stable from the time of horse and carriages on Toronto streets.

The case will be a significant test for building and heritage rules in the city, with questions over whether the maximum penalties under provincial legislation are enough of a disincentive for rule-breakers.

“I’ve never seen this level of outrage because the act was very brazen,” local Councillor Jaye Robinson said in an interview. “In the last five years in Toronto there hasn’t been a listed heritage home or a designated heritage home taken down.”

The owners of the Plymbridge Crescent home are listed on public property records as Mohammad Kassirian, a luxury custom homebuilder, and Marzieh Beigum Taheri. According to those records, they purchased the massive 24,014-square-foot lot in 2019 for $4.3 million.

In November 2020, the owners, through an agent, applied to the city for permission to redevelop the property, which currently also houses a large yard and pool with the house set back at an angle from the main, curving road with dense overhanging branches near Yonge Street and York Mills Road.

The plans submitted, and publicly posted, requested variances to allow a significantly larger two-storey single family home at nearly 8,600 square feet not including a planned basement — the existing home did not have one.

A city staff report dated in February 2021 recommended the committee that decides these matters for the area — the North York committee of adjustment — deny the application, noting the zoning bylaw for the area permits buildings up to 16.8 metres in length, but the requested plans were more than twice that at 36.6 metres. Staff said nothing that big had previously been requested and said it was not minor and “not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.”

In her own letter, Robinson said she agreed with that staff assessment as well as letters of objection from local resident submitted on the application.

That application has yet to be heard after heritage staff requested more time to assess the property, but a hearing has been scheduled, a city spokesperson said.

According to a staff report authored in February, the home at 19 Plymbridge Cres. originally belonged to the Boultbee family estate and was known as “The Hollow.” The land was purchased by lawyer William (Thumby) Mulock Boultbee in 1909 “for the purpose of constructing a home for his young family.” The patriarch died suddenly at the age of 39 before moving into the house but his wife and children occupied the estate, which included a house at nearby 59 Plymbridge Rd., the report says.

Staff determined the property was worthy of heritage status based on both the cultural history and as an example of an early 20th-century stables building with a cross gable roof.

Council voted to include the property in its heritage register in March ahead of the variance hearing.

Ahead of the decision, Frank Gardner of Gardner law firm wrote to Robinson on behalf of owners to object to the listing of the home and saying they were disappointed the variance hearing was moved to, the letter said, allow heritage staff time to assess the value of the property.

“Our client’s application to the Committee of Adjustment was submitted in November, 2020 and we believe that it is unfair in process because this listing is coming very late and without fair dealing with, and notification to, the owner,” the letter said.

More than two months later, much of the home would be rubble as neighbours watched in horror on May 24 as a demolition crew worked with a backhoe to bring the century-old home down.

When the Star visited this week, part of the home was still standing, including the garage. A temporary fence more than six feet tall blocked the driveway, with a notice from the city affixed to it noting an inspection May 25 found a demolition had occurred without a permit.

It instructed the owner to seek the necessary permits and cease all further demolition work until they have been issued.

Kassirian, reached by phone, told the Star he had several architectural opinions about prior redevelopment of the home, contesting its heritage value.

Pages from what appear to be a larger report written and signed by ERA Architects principal Andrew Pruss were also affixed to the fence outside the property. Fulsome copies were provided to the Star by the owner. It says that “no original finishes, interior or exterior” as well as other features remained and that the building “lacks integrity from the perspective of legibility of architectural detail and features as it retains virtually no aspects of the original stable construction.”

Pruss, in an interview, said their advice was to co-operate with heritage staff to discuss options for the site and that they produced a more fulsome report for the owners assessing potential heritage value. The report never recommends demolishing and Pruss said they would never recommend an action not approved by the city. He said he believed there were still solutions to redevelop by continuing to dialogue with city staff.

The Star asked Kassirian why he moved to demolish the house without a permit, regardless of its heritage value.

“I applied for a permit, they didn’t give (a) permit to me,” he told the Star. “Then I had no other choice.”

In a followup email statement, Kassirian said he was not properly notified of the city’s intentions regarding the heritage listing: “To this date I have not received any formal communication about the listing from the city.”

City staff made their intentions known in the report submitted on the variance application and the owner also submitted a legal letter contesting the recommendation by the city’s preservation board to list the property. The city’s site says the legislation does not require them to consult property owners on listing properties but it is recommended.

The Star was not able to reach the company who was seen carrying out the demolition.

A city investigation is ongoing three weeks later, a city spokesperson confirmed to the Star Thursday. Earlier, they confirmed a permit to demolish had not been issued for the property and said no further comment could be provided with the investigation continuing.

“More generally, even where the City has reasonable and probable grounds to believe an offence occurred such that the City issues charges, final determinations regarding the legality of acts are made by the courts and fines are levied by the courts, not the City,” city staff said in an email.

The provincial Building Code Act requires a permit to demolish a building from the city’s chief building official. The penalty for an offence under the act is up to $50,000 for a first offence and up to $100,000 for a subsequent offence.

The Ontario Heritage Act also does not allow removal of a designated property without city approval. Fines under that act depend on whether the property is listed or designated. According to the city, the difference is that listed properties don’t have the same protection under the Act. Owners must give council at least 60 days notice they intend to demolish a listed property to allow them to decide if they want to have the property designated. Council can refuse to permit demolition of a designated property.

For listed properties, maximum penalties total up to $50,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to a year. Designated properties — of which the 19 Plymbridge was not — total up to $1 million.

Additional fines can be laid under the Planning Act, a city spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, Robinson moved a motion asking staff to look for ways to strengthen heritage protections of culturally significant properties.

She said those watching this “egregious” case hope to see an appropriate penalty and are asking what the outcome will be, adding developers may treat the fines as the cost of doing business — a line item in their overall budget.

“We need to make an example of this. Period. Because we don’t want any repeats of this,” she said. “People want to see the book thrown at this builder but they also want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

The Record

Artist worries using weathering steel for New Hamburg water wheel could create rust-related woes

As the New Hamburg Board of Trade (NHBOT) pushes forward on its plan to replace the town's aging water wheel, board members are circling around using COR-TEN steel (also written as corten). 

"We are kicking around this idea of this corten product, but we're looking at all options and still want that heritage look with the water wheel," said Joe Figliomeni, chair of the board's water wheel committee, at a June 14 township council meeting. 

Corten, also known as weathering steel, develops a rugged rustlike appearance that acts as a protective layer over years of weather exposure.

Scott McKay, an Iona Station-based artist and blacksmith who grew up near Philipsburg, says he's not sure corten is appropriate for a water wheel, given the constant exposure to water, flooding and freezing. 

"Corten is meant to be wet and dry, and that's how it builds up its protective layer. But if it's continuously wet, it can't do it and it keeps rusting at an accelerated rate," McKay said. 

"It's a good material but it just has to be used in the right application." 

He worries the New Hamburg landmark could have a similar fate Atlanta's Omni Coliseum, which was demolished after 25 years because the city's humid climate didn't allow the material to build up its trademark protective layer. Instead, it simply rusted until it was unsafe. 

Fredrik Lindqvist, technical development manager for Swedish steel manufacturer SSAB, says without alternating wet and dry conditions, corten won't be able to build up its unique protective layer.

"If parts of the water wheel is in constant contact with water there will not be much patina and the steel will corrode (like) a normal carbon steel," said Lindqvist, suggesting a few extra millimetres of thickness could provide a longer lifespan. 

"What if it does rust out in 10 years or something like that? There's only one person that's on the hook then and it's the taxpayer to fix it up," said McKay, advocating for an aluminum or stainless steel wheel instead. 

Figliomeni estimates the replacement could cost between $200,000 to $300,000, hopefully lasting 50 years. 

Graham Whiting, principal architect for local sustainable design firm Whitefish Architecture, says corten is known for durability, but that can depend on the environmental conditions around it. 

"It tends to be very durable, but most things when they are subjected to wetting and drying repeatedly will break down faster," he said, positing the wheel could last a half-century if it is well-designed and the corten is cut thick enough. 

According to the project report prepared by University of Guelph students, the current wheel is made out of red cedar, a softer wood that has natural mould-resistant properties.

"Any wood is going to deteriorate relatively quickly," said Whiting, adding a good quality tight-grained hardwood like white oak could work, but it may mean replacing and maintaining the entire mechanism due to additional weight. 

University of Guelph associate engineering professor W. David Lubitz, who supervised the students who worked on the project, says the group put a lot of thought into the materials, landing on corten as the best option for the wheel's structural and esthetic needs.

"I should say, we're not experts on the fine details of these sorts of materials," said Lubitz, mentioning the now-graduated students' report is intended as a jumping off point to help estimate cost and feasibility.

"It needs a licensed engineer who is very familiar with this type of structure to go through it and do the checks."

Throughout the process, students presented a bunch of ideas and met with the NHBOT, community members, Grand River Conservation Authority officials, local engineering firms and even the original builders — a level of local support Lubitz said he hasn't seen in a decade of supervising capstone projects. 

"I think the students did a really good job," Lubitz said. "I really enjoyed being a small part of it."

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Artist Scott McKay reached out to the Independent with concerns about using corten for the water wheel and our reporters wanted to learn more about the material.

The Record

What will school look like in September? Ontario parents push for a ‘normal’ return

What will school look like in Ontario this September?

Quebec has already announced that students won’t have to wear masks, and cohorts aren’t needed — as parents and students here in Ontario begin to push for a normal return to school, especially for teens who should be fully vaccinated by then, along with their teachers.

“We need them to be back to normal,” said Toronto mom Tammy Doane, one of three local parents who started a lawn-sign campaign, with 900 now up on lawns in and around the city and York Region.

Kids “were pulled out of school 16 months ago, basically to save our lives,” she said. “And now parents and grandparents, we are 95 per cent safer than we were before (with full vaccinations), so now it’s time for us to save their lives.”

As kids have struggled with learning from home online, as well as the isolation from friends, she said they need to be back in school, in person, full time with extracurriculars and clubs.

Most boards are planning for a full return in the fall, though they’ve been directed by the Ministry of Education to cohort secondary students in quadmesters (two courses at a time), octomesters (one course at a time) or some form of a modified semester.

After an outcry, the Toronto District School Board switched from quadmester to a modified semester, and Chair Alexander Brown said his “fingers are crossed” that schedules could be back to normal come September as vaccination rates rise and COVID cases fall.

Caitlin Clark, spokesperson for Eduction Minister Stephen Lecce, said the “ministry has provided all school boards with enhanced funding so that they can be ready for all scenarios, however it is the clear intent of the government and the minister to deliver the most normal, safe, stable and positive learning experience this September as possible.”

She added that “with all students aged 12-plus and education workers prioritized for double vaccination prior to September, this will enable more flexibility and allow for a more normal in-class learning experience — including clubs, sports, and extracurriculars — supported by our government’s $1.6 billion investment to ensure the continuation of strong health and safety measures for a safe return to school this September.”

Virtual learning will remain an option for families.

Lecce has said he’ll announce in July what the school year will look like, including things like masking, cohorting and hand hygiene.

The District School Board of Niagara has already told families that “we remain committed to returning to in-person learning in September 2021. We believe this is best for students’ learning, mental health, and well-being.”

A memo from director Warren Hoshizaki said “a return to in-person means our students can be face-to-face with their teachers and peers for a full-day of learning, Monday to Friday. Students will be engaged in a wide array of curricular opportunities including hands-on and experiential learning.

“It also means the return of extracurriculars including athletics, clubs, and other engaging activities. We will begin with outdoor opportunities and will make modifications to other activities to ensure they uphold necessary protocols directed by Niagara Region Public Health. Over time, schools will add to the complement of extracurricular offerings that students can participate in.”

On Friday, small protests were held across the province by parents who supported reopening schools this month and were disappointed when Premier Doug Ford said they would remain shuttered until the fall.

Toronto mom Annabelle Edge and her two sons spent about an hour in front of Ford’s constituency office on Friday.

She said as a lone parent, she hasn’t been able to work while Garren, 12, and Conrad, 10, are at home learning and need her help and supervision.

“It’s been 15 months,” she said. “You put money away for a rainy day — well it’s been 15 months of rainy days. It’s just not sustainable.”

While she had hoped schools would reopen for in-person learning in June, she would now “like to see a full return in the fall … we need a new strategy here.”

In British Columbia, a back-to-school plan released Thursday called it a near-normal return, but said direction on masking would come later in the summer.

Quebec has said there will be no cohorting of kids, and that extracurriculars will resume. It will continue with regular hand hygiene and deep cleaning of schools.

Coaches from around the province wrote to the education minister last week urging a full return of activities for students.

“High school football in particular provides a diverse student population much needed access to both the physical and mental benefits of team sport,” they wrote.

“Without a full return to high school sports it is the least fortunate of our students who will be the most adversely affected. Those with the means will be able to pay for extracurriculars elsewhere, those without will have to suffer another year of missing out.

“Parents, teachers, and students all want the same thing; a safe return to the full, rich school life they enjoyed previously. Clear direction, given now, would go a long way to bringing peace of mind to all.”

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

CTV News Kitchener

Canada lifting restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers in early July

Canada will be lifting most international travel restrictions for Canadians, permanent residents, and certain foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated, starting July 5. Eligible travellers will not have to self-isolate but will still have to take COVID-19 tests before and upon arrival in this country.

CTV News Kitchener

What's in store for the summer?

From CTV Kitchener's Leighanne Evans: As summer officially begins, Waterloo Region residents are eager to find out what's in store.

CTV News Kitchener

Mostly sunny for the work week

From CTV Kitchener's Leighanne Evans: Despite a chance of storms on Monday, the rest of Waterloo Region's work week will have lots of sun.

CTV News Kitchener

A walk along the Living Levee Trail

From CTV Kitchener: The Living Levee Trail in Galt mixes new and old while surrounding the nature of the Grand River.

CTV News Kitchener

First fully immunized COVID-19 death in region

From CTV Kitchener's Heather Senoran: The Region of Waterloo has confirmed the first COVID-19 death of someone who was fully immunized.

CTV News Kitchener

Taking to the pond and patio for Father's Day

From CTV Kitchener's Carmen Wong: Families celebrating Father's Day in Waterloo Region were able to provide a boost to local businesses.

CTV News Kitchener

Local golfer looking to make history at U.S. Open

From CTV Kitchener's Krista Simpson: Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont. is hoping to make Canadian golf history at the U.S. Open.

CTV News Kitchener

Pfizer shipment delay garners mixed reactions

Torontonians waiting for a shot of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday were forced to choose Moderna following news of a delayed shipment from Pfizer.

The Record

Moderna the only vaccine option for adults at Waterloo Region clinics this week

WATERLOO REGION — Adults who have booked a Pfizer vaccine this week won’t be able to get it at certain regional clinics. Instead they can only get a Moderna shot.

A delayed Pfizer shipment to Ontario has prompted public health units to announce a temporary shift in COVID-19 vaccination strategy.

The limited supply of Pfizer will be temporarily reserved for youths aged 12 to 17 who can only receive this vaccine. Adults seeking shots at the Pinebush clinic in Cambridge and the Boardwalk in Waterloo will not be given Pfizer on request, the regional health unit annnounced Sunday.

Moderna is a similar vaccine in greater supply that experts say can be safely interchanged with Pfizer.

Medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang urged residents to keep their appointments and accept Moderna as their first or second dose.

The vaccines have different manufacturers “but they are essentially identical twins. We want everyone to be protected from COVID-19 as soon as possible, and we need to halt the spread of the Delta variant,” Wang said in a statement.

Other communities including Toronto are taking the same step while the Pfizer supply is disrupted. The latest Pfizer shipment to the province is reportedly delayed “by a number of days.”

Pfizer accounts for 86 per cent of doses administered to date at mass vaccination clinics and at doctor’s offices in the region.

Jeff Outhit is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach him via email: jouthit@therecord.com

Global News: Kitchener

Toronto scaling up Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as Ontario prepares for Pfizer delay

A representative for Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario's Pfizer delivery for this coming week is behind by two to three days.