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Death toll in Philippines floods, landslides rises to 61 | Philippines News

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The death toll from flash floods and landslides caused by torrential rains due to a tropical depression in the eastern Philippines has jumped to at least 61, with 18 still missing, according to officials.

Fifty of the victims were reported in the eastern region of Bicol, located south of the main island of Luzon, the national disaster risk reduction office was quoted as saying on Monday by dpa news agency. Eleven others died in the nearby region of Eastern Visayas.

Twelve people were also injured in various accidents in the two regions most affected by the rains even days before the tropical depression – known locally as Usman – made landfall in Eastern Samar province on Saturday.

More than 22,000 people were displaced by the bad weather, which also knocked out electricity in many of the affected areas, regional civil defence officials said.

Search and rescue operations were ongoing for the missing, while emergency teams were also clearing some roads and bridges made impassable by landslides and floods.





Pedestrians and vehicles move along a flooded street in Daet [Robert Balidoy/via Reuters]

Meanwhile, thousands of passengers were stranded at seaports, airports and bus terminals as dozens of inter-island trips were cancelled.

The tropical depression weakened into a low pressure area, but was continuing to bring heavy rains over the eastern provinces, enhanced by a cold front and the north-east monsoon, the weather bureau said.

The bad weather would also affect the capital, Manila, and other parts of the country, which could dampen usually rowdy New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Each year, the Philippines is struck by an average of 20 cyclones causing floods, landslides and other accidents.

One of the strongest in recent memory, Typhoon Haiyan, hit the country in November 2013, killing more than 6,300 people and displacing more four 4 million others.


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Al Jazeera and news agencies

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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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