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Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your day

Happy Friday!
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Sudbury.com reader Andrea Larsen captured this image in Lively. Sudbury.com welcomes submissions of local photography for publication with our morning greeting. Send yours to editor@sudbury.com.

Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your day on this Friday morning.

School boards issue notice about potential student walkout Friday

In anticipation that students walk out of their schools in protest of COVID-related restrictions, local school boards issued notices to parents this week. As of mid-afternoon Thursday, there was no indication that protests had been planned, but schools were aware of a social media campaign that urges walkout action at 2 p.m. Friday. The campaign pushes for an “Ontario school wide walkout” to “End the mask mandates, REP and all restrictions.” The REP references the Restrictions Exemption Program in Alberta – that province’s version of the vaccine passport, which Alberta eliminated earlier this week. Rainbow District School Board issued a letter to parents and guardians on Thursday that acknowledged the social media posts and that some students might decide to participate. “A walkout is not a school sanctioned event,” according to the letter signed by director of education Bruce Bourget. “Demonstrations of this nature are not permitted on school property.” Further, he notes that since it is not a school activity, no supervision will be provided once students leave school property. 

Read the full story here.

Easing restrictions: Salons and similar services can now choose to opt out of vaccine requirements

The Sudbury public health decision to rescind some of the restrictions put in place back a couple of months ago means that some local personal care service facilities can "opt out" of certain vaccine requirements. But overall, Sudbury residents will still need to wear masks and provide proof of vaccinations for most services. It was on Feb. 5 that Public Health Sudbury and Districts rescinded a previous position that had placed restrictions on personal care services such as hair salons, barbershops, manicure-pedicure parlors, tanning salons, spas and tattoo studios. The earlier restrictions included the need for providing proof of vaccination. The stricter measures were introduced back in the second week of December. Jonathan Groulx, manager of health protection at PHSD, said the stricter measures are no longer required. He said operators of such personal care services can opt out of the vaccination mandate if they wish. But it also means that they have to follow physical distancing rules of each person being situated at least two metres away from other people. "And then, if you choose to opt out and not require proof of vaccination, then you have to respect those physical distancing rules. And it's all outlined in the rules for areas in step three. And this is provincewide. So there's no longer any local restrictions," said Groulx. But that doesn't mean the vaccine requirements are out across the board. Groulx said many of the proof of vaccine mandates are still in place. "So it would still be in effect for restaurants, bars, and other kinds of food and drink establishments, meeting and event spaces, indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreation, and a whole bunch of other settings like casinos, bingos, halls and other establishments," Groulx explained. 

Read the full story here.

CRA told Laurentian in December that filing delay meant its charity registration could be revoked

The Canada Revenue Agency gave Laurentian University notice in December that it would revoke LU’s charity registration if its information return were not filed within the next 45 days. This as Laurentian, which continues to undergo insolvency restructuring, experienced delays in publishing its 2020-2021 audited financial statements and thus filling its charity information return with the CRA. On Jan. 15, Laurentian filed its annual information return with CRA prior to the expiry of the 45-day window, appending its then current unaudited financial statements. The audited financial statements have yet to be published. A spokesperson for Laurentian University said in an email to Sudbury.com that “we do not have a specific date just yet regarding when these statements for 2020-2021 will be published.”

Read the full story here.

Million-dollar donation to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine

A well-known Toronto-based charity has donated $1 million to NOSM (Northern Ontario School of Medicine) University in support of scholarships for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) women in the North who wish to attend medical school. The endowment is from the Slaight Family Foundation. The money will be directed to NOSM's bank account and not into a general fund as was being done with some previous donations to the medical school when it was affiliated with Laurentian University. It was revealed in a Sudbury.com story in 2021 that nearly $14 to $15 million worth of endowments made to NOSM was directed to LU's general treasury before the financial insolvency was declared in February of 2021. The donation was praised by Dr. Sarita Verma, dean, president and CEO of NOSM and described in a news release as the NOSM’s first female BIPOC dean. “I am deeply grateful to The Slaight Family Foundation for this gift to NOSM,” said Verma. 

Read the full story here.

Boost rapid test reliability by doing oral and nasal swabbing, experts say

Ontario's expert science advisers say rapid antigen tests don't detect COVID-19 infections with the Omicron variant as reliably as they did with the Delta strain, but changing the way the tests are performed can boost their sensitivity. The science advisory table says in a brief today that the rapid tests, which involve nasal swabs, are less sensitive for Omicron, especially in the first one or two days after infection. But, they say the tests are better at detecting Omicron if people swab both cheeks, followed by the back of the tongue or throat, then both nostrils. The advisers say a single negative rapid test is not conclusive and "should not be used as a green light for abandoning or reducing precautions," but a positive result can be considered positive for COVID-19. Current provincial guidance allows people to end isolation - for example, if they develop symptoms - if they receive negative results on two rapid tests 24 to 48 hours apart.

Read the full story here.

Landry-Altmann ensures $500K investment remains at the Flour Mill Museum site

As part of a review of museum operations, Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyn Landry-Altmann is striving to ensure the Flour Mill Museum retains its slice of the pie, worth $500,000. During Tuesday’s city council meeting, the city’s elected officials approved the continued suspension of museum services throughout 2022 to allow a review of museums to take place. A one-time expense of $210,000 from reserves will go toward developing a Museums Revitalization Business Plan for consideration as part of 2023 budget deliberations. A report by city executive director of Strategic Initiatives, Communications and Citizen Services Ian Wood also proposed that the construction of a planned storage and administration building at the Flour Mill Museum be suspended and that the expense go toward implementing whatever recommendations the plan outlines. Landry-Altmann introduced a successful motion on Tuesday to ensure that these funds remain at the Flour Mill Museum site at O’Connor Park. “It was presented to the community as a community hub shared facility to house staff as well as the community,” she said of the proposed building, adding that a lot of thought was given into the project alongside years of community consultation. 

Read the full story on the Sudbury.com homepage.

Mild while the sun’s up, but cold returns tonight

It’s going to a mild, snowy day today. Expect a high today of -1 with up to 10 centimetres of snow in the forecast. The wind will be out of the southwest at 30 km/h, gusting to 50, so expect a wind chill of -17 this morning and -7 this afternoon. Tonight, expect periods of snow and a low of -21.