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There’s an app for that: Students opt for delivery over bag lunches, cafeterias

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Gone are the days of bag lunches and bologna sandwiches.

With a tap on a smartphone, students are getting burgers, paninis and sushi delivered right into their hungry hands at school.

It’s a growing trend that has school officials across the country deciding whether they should impose rules on the use of food delivery apps, including Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats, or ban their services altogether.

“We wanted to get ahead of it,” says Raza Husain, principal of Balmoral Drive Senior Public School in Brampton, Ont.

Lunch deliveries at the middle school aren’t causing a problem, he says. But he has heard about it creating a bit of disruption at other schools, so a rule was put in place requiring lunches to be prepaid before they are delivered to the school.

“We treat it as if a parent is dropping off a lunch.”

St. Theresa Catholic School in Sherwood Park, Alta., just east of Edmonton, banned the use of app deliveries earlier this year.

“These businesses are not permitted on school property unless authorized by school administration, as the use of these services may pose a security risk to the school,” said a note sent to parents in November.

It’s difficult to track school lunch deliveries.

A spokesman for Skip the Dishes says the company doesn’t keep count of its school deliveries. And most school districts say it’s up to each school to determine whether it will allow them.

“If student use of these services disrupts the learning environment of a school, principals may make the decision to ban or limit the use of these services,” says Megan Normandeau, a spokeswoman with Edmonton Public Schools.

Anjana Rajan, a full-time working mother of two in Sherwood Park, says making lunches isn’t her favourite thing to do.

She had been running late one morning during the last school year and knew she couldn’t keep a promise to her eight-year-old for an after-school treat. So she had Skip the Dishes deliver a Quiznos sandwich to the front office at Ecole Campbelltown for his lunch.

“It was just the perfect storm and the idea of making lunch that morning just irritated me to no end,” Rajan says. She had also seen other parents occasionally deliver Happy Meals from McDonald’s during school lunch breaks, so figured it was no big deal.

She gave office staff a heads-up about the order and it wasn’t an issue, she says. Her son was happy, and she was relieved.

She hopes to surprise her kids with another lunch treat someday, as long as the school doesn’t impose a ban. “I understand the schools, if they’re getting an influx of orders and the office has to manage that.”

James Johnston, principal at Semiahmoo Secondary School in Surrey, B.C., says about five to 10 lunches were being delivered each day in October and he decided the problem should be addressed. Delivery drivers were showing up at different times and walking through the school to meet students.

“We started thinking about that as a bit of a safety issue,” he says.

The school now requires students to pick up food deliveries off school property — most go to a nearby public parking lot — and not during class time.

Although the school has its own cafeteria and is close to several restaurants, many students have their own cellphones and credit cards and want to have their lunches dropped off, Johnston says.

“The novelty of having it delivered, the novelty of being able to pay online through the app … a few kids are doing it, then a few more are doing it, and then everybody wants to give it a try.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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