Roundup: A week with no new cases, environmental lessons from lockdown, creative ways to reopen, new school bus rules

Photo: Pictou Advocate

Yesterday, June 16, Nova Scotia marked a week with no new confirmed cases of COVID-19. To date, the province has had 1,061 confirmed cases and 62 deaths. There are currently two active cases, both of which are in hospital, including one in ICU. Some 997 people have recovered.

“Today marks our seventh day in a row with no new cases of COVID-19,” says Premier Stephen McNeil in a press release. “Each and every Nova Scotian has made sacrifices to get us to this place. And while we can all be pleased with our progress, it’s vital we remain vigilant. Please continue to follow all guidelines and do everything you can to keep our province safe.”

What the pandemic teaches us about climate change
The pandemic lockdown wasn’t underway long before we started seeing its effects on our planet. Air pollution dropped, the biggest dip in carbon emissions since scientists began measuring them. In Canada’s five biggest cities, the amount of pollutants in the air dropped by up to 15%.

While the lockdown isn’t a sustainable way to fight the climate emergency, it does show that drastic change is easier than we thought, pointing the way to a greener future. “The systems themselves are changing,” writes Gabbie Douglas in this Halifax Magazine opinion essay. “In Milan, Italy, the government announced a plan to reduce car use after lockdown. During the city’s lockdown, motor traffic and congestion dropped by 30–75%. Air pollution also plummeted. When the pandemic ends, officials intend to transform streets into cycling and walking pathways for citizens.”

The pandemic has forced us to reconsider how we live, work, and get around. Now it’s up to us to decide what we do with those lessons.

Desiree Jans

Finding ways to reopen safely
As businesses and public spaces reopen, many are having to come up with creative solutions to safely serve people. At the Tatamagouche Library, a take-out window is part of the solution. “There are a lot of people who are comfortable going out in public now but there are some who are not, so the option of a contact-less pickup window has been making people happy,” says manager Desiree Jans.

During the lockdown, the library relied on its online offerings to serve customers, which Jans plans to continue. “We’ve expanded our virtual library,” she says. “We will continue with the virtual programming.” Raissa Tetanish reports for The Light.

Black Lives Matter—support around the province
As support for the Black Lives Matter movement grows, Nova Scotia is being forced to face its own troubled history. In New Glasgow, marchers gathered peacefully last weekend to demand change, with some noting that Nova Scotians seem more comfortable critiquing American racism than our own. “In 2018 when a young Black man was shot with a nail gun on the job site, we did not have a rally like this,” says activist Wayne Desmond.

He does, however, see a flicker of hope. “This is beyond what I thought,” he says. “We want the other people that aren’t here to speak up, use your privilege, use your position of power to speak out,” he adds. See Heather Brimicombe’s story in The Pictou Advocate.

New school bus rules
When school resumes in September, more kids in HRM will be eligible for school bus service. Pre-primary and elementary students who live at least 1.6 km from the school will be eligible for busing; likewise for junior-high and high school students who live at least 2.4 km away. (The old criteria were 2.4 and 3.6 km, respectively).

“After consulting with school communities throughout Halifax Regional Municipality, we have made substantial changes,” says education minister Zach Churchill. “It is clear from conversations with families and the education community that changes were necessary to improve how we help students get to school.” See the story in The Reporter.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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