Roundup: Pictou student housing plans underway, COVID update as school masking ends, South Shore duo wins provincial title, provincial government spending $1M on rink upgrades

Liverpool's Josey Huskins and Calla Brown recently claimed their division's provincial badminton title. Photo: Submitted

Plus: Facing sexism and war, a Halifax doctor travelled around the globe and never stopped helping people

Education minister Becky Druhan’s decision to end masking in schools took effect yesterday, despite the continuing spread of COVID-19.

She offers little rationale for the move, beyond noting in a press release that governments across Canada have similarly cut protections. A memo from school administrators (shared by a teacher on Twitter) says wearing a mask is “a personal choice … Individuals may not request that others wear a mask.”

But the Canadian Medical Association Journal cautions that choice comes with big consequences: “School systems with mask mandates have a lower incidence of COVID-19 amongst students and staff … The benefit extends to the community, with fewer cases.”

The World Health Organization tallies 357,682 new COVID-19 cases around the globe in the last 24 hours, but the real number of ill people is likely much higher, as many jurisdictions (including Nova Scotia) are withholding daily data, making it impossible to get a full picture of the disease’s spread.

So far, COVID is known to have has killed 6,279,667 people worldwide, including 40,695 in Canada and 378 Nova Scotians. World Health Organization officials add that those are only the deaths directly from COVID. When they tally deaths that doctors could have otherwise prevented had COVID not exacerbated an existing condition, the toll skyrockets to 14.9 million.

Dr. Florence Murray

Local history: Dr. Florence Murray
Born in Pictou Landing in 1894, Florence Murray was a nonconformist from her earliest days. She wanted to be a minister, a goal abandoned when an official told her the Presbyterian Church would not accept women ministers, so instead she decided to help people by coming a doctor.

She was the only woman in her class. In her fourth year of studies, the Halifax Explosion hit, and she was among the medical students providing life-saving care to victims. That set the pattern for the rest of her life, as she travelled to some of the world’s most ravaged and devastated places, caring for the victims of war and brutality.

Learn more about her life and work in this Dorothy Grant post from the free Unravel Halifax archives.

Pictou student housing plans underway
As the housing crisis continues, the principal of the Pictou campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is excited that work is about to begin on a $12.4-million government project to create residences for about 50 students.

“We’re the only rural campus this year that’s been chosen (for funding) with the expectation if will open in the fall of 2023,” said Mann. “We have a very aggressive building schedule.”

Raissa Tetanish reports for the Pictou Advocate.

South Shore duo wins provincial title
The Liverpool middle-school tandem of Josey Huskins and Calla Brown won the School Sport Nova Scotia provincial badminton championships in girls’ doubles last month.

They’re among the many young athletes around Nova Scotia returning to competition, after two years of pandemic delays and cancellations.

Kevin McBain has more for LighthouseNow.

Government upgrading rinks
The provincial government recently announced plans to spend $1 million upgrading 25 skating rinks around Nova Scotia. Health minister Michelle Thompson sees a lot of value in that expenditure, pointing to the rink in her community of Antigonish, which is getting $68,400.

“The Antigonish Arena is a space for staying physically active and building communities,” she says. “I’m very excited that families will continue to benefit from the rink thanks to this funding.”

Jake Boudrot has the story for the Reporter.

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