Simcoe County public board says students can switch from online to in-class learning if space available

The Simcoe County District School Board says its policy remains unchanged when it comes to students having to remain in online or in-class learning until the end of the term, but exemptions may be granted in some cases. Sarah Kekewich, manger of communications for the board, said a student may be able to make the switch before the end of the term in February of next year, but “only where space exists in a school.” In June, prior to the summer break, parents were asked to decide whether they wanted to keep their children in online learning, or to have them return to the classroom in the fall. Parents were told that once they made the choice, they could not switch their child’s learning model until the start of the next term. “The staffing and development of both in-person and remote learning classes require considerable coordination, taking into account multiple factors including enrolment, school composition, class cohorts and collective agreements with our union members,” Kekewich said in a written statement. “It is for those reasons that families were asked to make this decision about their child’s learning mode in June. We understand that this was a difficult decision; however, we needed to prepare for our students to ensure that programming would be ready beginning on Sept. 7.” Amanda Reiber is a mother of three elementary-aged students who lives in the Everett area. When she initially decided to keep her kids learning from home, her working circumstances were different. But her situation changed over the summer, prompting her to ask the board to allow her to switch her kids to in-class learning. “I know I’m not the only parent in this situation,” she said. She was told there was nothing that could be done until February. But she didn’t take no for an answer, and after weeks of pleading with the board, her request was granted. She questions why the board didn’t revise the policy closer to the starts of the school year, when COVID-19 cases were lower, vaccination rates higher, and more people had started returning to work. “I think February is too late if you ask me,” she said. “That’s half way through the school year, where you are going to have to uproot the kids and they will have to get used to everything again. I think sooner is better, because it will be less disruptive to their schedules.”

Napoleon hiring 100 more workers for its Barrie manufacturing facility

Napoleon is hiring 100 full-time employees. The manufacturer is adding to its workforce at its Barrie facility after experiencing strong sales and increased demand for its products, the company said in a media release. Napoleon will be seeking to find people to fill these jobs with a job fair on Sept. 16 at  from 1 to 7 p.m. Positions are available on afternoon and midnight shifts, with premiums. Those interested are asked to bring a resume for on-site, in-person interviews at the job fair. Job offers will be made as quickly as 48 hours after the job fair is complete. The job fair is an outdoor, COVID-19-conscious event that will take place rain or shine. Napoleon is a Canadian manufacturer and retailer of quality grills, fireplaces and heating and cooling solutions based in Barrie. It currently employs more than 1,000 associates. For more information, visit .

Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte People’s Party candidate Chris Webb

Candidate name: Riding: Party affiliation: People’s Party of Canada Age: 61 Occupation: Business owner/professional engineer Municipality of residence: Barrie Past political experience: None Vaccinated against COVID-19? No. Personal choice. Election pledge in 50 words or less: “I will work on issues that are important to this area, including the ending of all forms of censorship, preventing vaccine passports (and) mandatory vaccination, ending lockdowns (and) alarmism pertaining to COVID-19 … (and) reducing government intervention in personal issues of constituents as it happens in totalitarian countries.”

‘This is a needle in a haystack’: Family of missing Nottawa woman longs for closure

It’s been 10 years since Lindsay Stubbs last saw her sister. A decade of wondering when and if the two would ever share another moment together. Kelly Coleman was last seen on Aug. 3, 2011. She was 34 at the time and left behind her then 12-year-old son, her boyfriend and a family desperately searching for answers. For Stubbs, the tragedy of not knowing what happened to Coleman shows in those tender moments when she recalls childhood memories of spending time at a park, shopping, enjoying an afternoon of fishing, or helping her sister move into a new house with her boyfriend. “She loved photos,” Stubbs said. “She would always get me to help her and do scrapbooking or putting together a new photo album, just so she had memories all the time. She made sure to be there for me.” Stubbs last saw Coleman in Barrie on July 30, 2011, at a birthday celebration. However, the family didn’t report her missing until January 2012, when Coleman hadn’t responded to their calls and messages. “Sometimes with a lot of people, she would go months without talking to them,” said Stubbs. “I’d speak to her every day for three months straight. And then sometimes a month would go by, but we would never think anything of it.” Coleman’s boyfriend at the time, Steve George, told the OPP he dropped her off at a Mac’s Convenience store in Barrie on Aug. 3, 2011. According to Stubbs, George told her two different stories, first saying he dropped Coleman off at the south-end Walmart and then saying he came home from work to see Coleman’s stuff all packed and gone, along with her. “This is a needle in a haystack,” said Tony Markic, the OPP’s lead detective on the case. “Cases tend to stick with detectives for a long time. Everybody has that one, and this is the one for me.” Markic said the OPP believes Coleman never left her residence in Nottawa and instead met with foul play on or before Aug. 3, 2011. He named George as a suspect, citing a lack of co-operation from him in the investigation. But George said he was co-operative and that he didn’t kill Coleman. “I dropped her off in Barrie like she asked to be. That was the last I’d seen or heard from her. Maybe she just moved on. She always said she was going to,” said George. George said he and Coleman were in a relationship for six years. As time went by, however, he said he felt the relationship deteriorated. According to Markic, the OPP executed a search warrant in 2015 at Coleman’s Nottawa residence, hoping to find evidence of human remains or anything that would point to foul play. Police believed Coleman’s disappearance was linked to her possible death. The search turned up evidence of Coleman’s unpacked belongings, which Stubbs said George refused to give her. It also raised doubts about George’s version of events, in which he said he dropped Coleman off in Barrie with all her belongings. “I know where I dropped her off,” said George. “I dropped her off at Mac’s… at the same road as the Walmart in Barrie. That’s where the confusion came.” As for Stubbs, she believes Coleman’s history of drinking and other mental health issues might make people value her disappearance less. She said she’s concerned about painting her step-sister in a bad light that would take away the urgency to find her. For now, Stubbs and her family have come to terms with Coleman’s disappearance, but she wants to know what happened to her, in hopes of bringing her family closure. “I love my sister. I want to find her.” Correction – Aug. 31, 2021 – This article has been edited from a previous version that misstated the date that Lindsay Stubbs last saw Kelly Coleman. It was also edited to clarify that Stubbs and Coleman are sisters (half-sisters), not step-sisters.

Police looking for suspect after items stolen from vehicles in Alliston

The Nottawasaga OPP detachment is looking for a suspect after a number of vehicles were broken into in an Alliston neighbourhood. The break-ins occurred Tuesday, Sept. 7 between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. along Shephard Avenue, Bowerman Boulevard and Essa Road. The suspect also allegedly entered some garages, or attempted to do so. A low quality photo provided to the media of the suspect shows a man wearing red shorts, a grey shirt and a blue hat. Residents are being reminded to make sure their vehicles and doors to their homes are locked at night. It is also recommended to remove valuables from vehicles. Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to call the OPP at or Crime Stoppers at (8477).

Are you locking up? Collingwood OPP investigate 43 vehicle break-ins in 2 months

Vehicle owners are being asked to stay vigilant about locking up, after police in Collingwood have been called to more than 40 vehicle break-ins over the past two months. According to Collingwood OPP, thieves have swiped a number of items from vehicles, including purses, wallets, cash, and credit cars. In the majority of those incidents, the vehicle had been left unlocked. According to police, locking your vehicle is the best way to prevent this type of incident. Police say other crime prevention tips include removing valuables from the vehicle, or removing them from plain sight, closing windows, not leaving the car running and unattended, and parking in a well-lit area. Recently, Collingwood and The Blue Mountains Auxiliary OPP officers conducted a Lock it or Lose it initiative, distributing crime prevention pamphlets in residential neighbourhoods. During those patrols, they found several unlocked vehicles, some with windows down and many with valuables in plain sight. “All those combined make those vehicles very easy targets for thieves and explains why this type of crime keeps repeating itself,” stated a release from the detachment. Anyone with information is asked to call Collingwood OPP at , or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at . You can also leave an anonymous tip online at o.

If the border was about to reopen, would the U.S. be telling its citizens not to visit Canada?

WASHINGTON—During the two weeks I recently travelled back to Canada to visit family for the first time in way-too-long, I got a lot of questions from Canadians wondering when they might be able to drive to the U.S. for a similar trip. That information, as I’ve written at various points during the summer, is frustratingly hard to come by. The U.S. government is resistant to providing straight answers — or any answers — to questions about land policy considerations, leaving reporters and the normally in-the-know experts we consult to read some combination of tea leaves and smoke signals before trying to guess. But as signals go, the decision by the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control on Monday doesn’t seem particularly hard to decode. Telling U.S. travellers that Canada is a “level three” threat due to and that they should therefore “reconsider travel” to Canada doesn’t seem like a sign they’re on the verge of opening the doors wide to travellers from Canada. (On Tuesday morning, some media outlets briefly reported that the threat level had been raised even further, to “level four — do not travel,” which caused a flurry of astonished concern on social media. This, it turns out, was an error.) Once upon a pandemic time, the U.S. did have Canada on its “do not travel” list, but it recently lowered that assessment to “level two — exercise increased caution.” Shortly after that, the U.S. issued its most recent update to official border policy when it extended its land-border ban on entry by Canadians — other than U.S. visa holders and essential travellers — until at least Sept. 21. Now it has revised its estimate of the risk Canada poses again. The CDC, in its update, urged Americans not to travel to Canada except for essential reasons because “all travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.” You may scoff at the notion that the U.S. considers Canadians a risk to infect Americans. While the fears of another wave of the Delta variant in Canada are real, they pale in comparison to the actual wave that’s overtaken much of the U.S. right now. As the U.S. commentator after the erroneous reports of a level four warning, “Canada currently has about 7 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, about one-seventh the rate of the US and less than half that of the lowest US state.” It certainly seems that Americans would be safer from the virus if they travelled to Canada than they are in most parts of the U.S. (as fully vaccinated Americans have been free to do without quarantining since Aug. 9, as long as they test negative before entry). Many Canadians will think that the current U.S. ban protects them a lot more than it does the Americans they’d be visiting. When I was in Ontario in late August, I overheard one Canadian in the Fort Erie area explaining that although he had relatives in North Carolina and lived 20 minutes from the border, he wasn’t sure he ever wanted to travel to the U.S. again. He’s surely not alone. And yet there are plenty of Canadians I hear from — those who are fully vaccinated, and who have relatives or friends in the U.S., or who own property there — who would like to visit. They consider vaccination and testing requirements reasonable. They cannot understand why long-standing U.S. policy would allow them to fly in (as it has allowed all along) but not to drive across the border. There has of that policy, and there doesn’t appear to be a change imminent. White House press secretary Jen Psaki did say this week that the U.S. continues to work with its allies on “strengthening testing protocols” and ensuring all those entering the U.S. are fully vaccinated. “No decision has been made yet, but these internal discussions have benefited greatly from our engagement with our international partners,” Psaki said. Which is about as definitive as official statements on the future of border restrictions into the U.S. have been. I’ve written before about things that appear to be complicating any decision on the land border with Canada — . But with trade in most industries still flowing freely between the two countries, this just isn’t a priority for an American administration juggling a series of overlapping crises including Afghanistan, Hurricane Ida, forest fires raging across the U.S. west, and hospitals in the south overwhelmed by the spread of the Delta variant. The irony of the Americans raising their threat assessment of Canada this week may be that what really appears to be holding back any movement on the land border is a series of domestic threats. When their own house is on fire, they just aren’t thinking much about whether to invite the neighbours over for dinner. Edward Keenan is the Star’s Washington Bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Reach him via email:

Simcoe Muskoka health unit reports 30 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, 23 of which are unvaccinated residents

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb locally and it’s due, in large part, to the unvaccinated among us. On its website Aug. 26, the health unit reported 30 additional cases of the virus in the Simcoe-Muskoka region. Of those, 23 are unvaccinated, while fully- and partially-immunized residents account for four and three incidents, respectively. Among the 128 cases reported last week, 104 involved unvaccinated residents, with 16 fully-inoculated and eight partially-immunized also infected. There were nine cases reported in New Tecumseth Thursday. Barrie (six), Innisfil (five), Bradford (four), Essa (two) and Collingwood, Huntsville, Penetanguishene and Springwater (one each) were also listed. Eight residents 17 years of age and under fell ill, as did one person in the 80-plus demographic. One Barrie woman’s case was linked to travel. Sources of infection otherwise range from “close contact” and “outbreak-related” to “community-acquired” and “under investigation.” There are 173 known active cases, including nine hospitalizations (three of which are being treated in intensive care). Seventy-four cases are likely variants. Outbreaks have also been reported at three Simcoe County facilities in recent days — a childcare centre (six cases), a food and beverage service (five) and a repair and maintenance site (four). To date, 431,077 people — or 71.3 per cent of the total population — have received at least an initial shot. About 64.6 per cent of residents are fully inoculated. And 4,008 Alpha (discovered in the U.K.), 403 Delta (discovered in India), 167 Gamma (discovered in Brazil), and 34 Beta (discovered in South Africa) variant cases have been confirmed. Additionally, 662 passed the first stage of the two-step mutation test and are subject to genome sequencing to determine the strain. Since the start of the pandemic, 12,728 residents have contracted the virus, though 12,299 successfully recovered. A total of 256 locals have succumbed to COVID-19. For more on the local effect of the virus, or to book a vaccination appointment, visit .