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Windsor bomb squad called in after ghost-hunting device forgotten at cultural centre

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It turns out a small black box with a dangling red wire and little blue light investigated by Windsor’s bomb squad Tuesday isn’t actually dangerous — at least to the living.

The Windsor Police Explosives Disposal Unit were called to Mackenzie Hall around 7:15 p.m. to investigate a suspicious package. Police determined the package was “safe” and that there was no evidence of explosive material.

Const. Andy Drouillard would not confirm whether a suspicious package in question was actually a ghost-hunting device that had been left behind.

But the spokesperson for the Listowel Paranormal Society said that little black box belonged to them.

I got some pretty weird feelings and chills, cold spots and goose bumps of course.–  Listowel  Paranormal Society spokesperson

He said he didn’t even realize the EMF detector — short for electromagnetic field sensor — was missing after the society completed a sweep for spirits at the hall last Friday.

Then the police showed up at his door.

Electromagnetic Field Sensor used to detect energy. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

After describing the bit of gear, he got the bad news.

“They said ‘Unfortunately we can’t give it back to you. It’s been destroyed,’ but it’s OK. It’s replaceable.”

It’s just this tiny little box with an LED light and a wire. In our field we use it to determine if there’s an entity or an energy in the room with us and if there is, the little blue light will flicker.– Jen Parker​, assistant director of the  Listowel  Paranormal Society

Jen Parker, assistant director for the society, described the EMF sensor as a standard piece of equipment that’s carried by each member of their six-person team was during a search.

“It’s just this tiny little box with an LED light and a wire,” she explained. “In our field we use it to determine if there’s an entity or an energy in the room with us and if there is, the little blue light will flicker.”

The ghost-hunters spent three hours covering the historical building from top to bottom and although they still haven’t looked through everything they gathered, the spokesperson said there were strong signs of paranormal activity — especially in the old jail, dressing room and basement.

“I had wandered off down by myself to try to get some kind of something … and I got some pretty weird feelings and chills, cold spots and goose bumps of course.”

The spirit searchers are taking a lesson from their nearly explosive experience. The spokesperson said the team will make sure they have all of their equipment with them before leaving future sites.

Despite the scare, he said staff at Mackenzie Hall aren’t too spooked to welcome them back again soon.

“They were shocked, obviously, but all is well right now. We’re kind of getting a chuckle out of it.”

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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