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What you need to know about schools shifting to online learning in Ottawa and eastern Ontario




OTTAWA — As the week long April break comes to an end, elementary and secondary school teachers and students will be shifting to online learning.

The Ontario government announced last Monday that schools will be closed to in-person learning starting Monday, April 19 due to the COVID-19 situation across the province. looks at the back to school plans this week as schools shift to remote learning.


The Ottawa Carleton District School Board says April 19 will be an asynchronous learning day for all OCDSB elementary and secondary school students and staff.

“This will allow for important transition time,” said the board.

Parents will receive information from the school on April 19, with live video synchronous instruction beginning on Tuesday, April 20.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board provided more information about remote learning on Sunday:


  • Kindergarten – 180 minutes of synchronous teacher-led virtual instruction and 120 asynchronous minutes learning activities and tasks for a total of 300 minutes of learning time.  
  • Grades 1-8 – 225 minutes live teacher-led virtual instruction and 75 minutes learning activities (asynchronous) for a total of 300 minutes of learning time.


The OCDSB says secondary in-person students will have live teacher-led virtual instruction daily, with two subjects each day. This will include:

  • 112.5 minutes – Subject 1
  • 30 minute – Nutrition break/transition
  • 112.5 minute – Subject 2
  • 40 minute – Lunch Hour
  • 75 minute – Remote student support

Special Education

The OCDSB says while in-person learning is best for most students with special needs, many students can have their educational needs met through remote learning.

A staggered entry plan is being developed for students requiring in-person learning.

Child care for non-school aged children will remain open.


Elementary schools

The Ottawa Catholic School Board says staff will return to work on April 19 and will need some time to transition to remote learning and make arrangements for the system classes.

Before the regular lunch hour period, parents will receive a link to their children’s classroom Google Meet Page. The link will connect with the classroom teacher on the afternoon of April 19 and every day during the lockdown.

During the remote learning period, the board says students will follow their regular school timetable.

The board says per Ministry of Education guidance, approximately 75 per cent of the instructional day will be synchronous learning for Grades 1-8.

Secondary schools

The Ottawa Catholic School Board says secondary students in cohort A and cohort B will participate in asynchronous learning for their morning course on Monday, April 19.

On Monday, students in cohort A and B will receive a Google Meet link from their afternoon teacher to connect for synchronous learning.

Starting Tuesday, cohort A and cohort B will connect each day with their classroom teacher for remote learning using the teacher-provided Google Meet link for each of their two courses.

The board says per Ministry of Education guidance, approximately 80 per cent of the instructional day will be synchronous learning for Grades 9-12.


The Conseil des ecoles catholiques du Centre-Est says Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will begin virtual learning on Tuesday, April 20.

Teachers will provide details on the virtual classroom to students on Monday, April 19.

The board says students in separate classes who live with a developmental disability (HD), an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a mild intellectual disability (DIL) and students with multiple disabilities will be able to continue their learning in face-to-face and/or in virtual, depending on the parent’s choice.


The Conseil des ecoles publiques de l’Est says teachers will spend Monday preparing for the transition to virtual learning and there will be no school for students.

Staff will contact parents/students to share information about accessing the online learning platform.

Virtual classes will begin for all elementary and secondary students on Tuesday, April 20. The board says students will connect with teachers through the Google Meet platform for synchronous online learning.

The board says the education centres and child care services remain open.


The Upper Canada District School Board says school-based staff will be meeting virtually on April 19 and working to transition all elementary and secondary students to remote learning.

Kindergarten to Grade 8 students will hear from their teacher on April 19 about remote learning plans for their class. 

The board says Grade 9-12 students already have a planned remote learning day on April 19, and will continue to finalize their work for Quadmester 3. Quadmester 4 starts on April 20 and students will hear from their teachers on April 20 or before about remote learning plans for their classes in Quadmester 4.  


There will be no online classes on Monday as staff in Kindergarten to Grade 8 prepare for remote learning and engage with students to communicate remote learning expectations.

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario says all Kindergarten to Grade 8 students will begin online learning on Tuesday, April 20.

Students in grades 9 to 12 will resume Quadmester classes as originally scheduled on April 21.

Schools offering licensed infant, toddler and preschool programs will continue to provide access to their on-site childcare centres.


The Renfrew County District School Board says April 19 will be a day for elementary teachers to connect with students and families.  Details of the weekly schedule will be provided to students, parents and guardians by the end of the day on April 19.  Remote learning will begin in earnest on Tuesday, April 20.

For secondary school students, the board says staff will send a Google Meet to their class to invite them to connect for the purposes of Student Success on April 19 and 20. Quadmester 4 begins on April 21.


The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board says asynchronous learning begins Monday for elementary and secondary schools.

Synchronous learning begins on Tuesday, April 20.

Face-to-face learning for students with complex special needs begins on Wednesday, April 21.

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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries





This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Kat Ferries on the future of chefs, or read posts from Quinn Taylor on bars or Justin Champagne on fine dining.

Kat Ferries is Sous-Chef at Stofa Restaurant and a 2020 San Pellegrino North American Young Chef Social Responsibility Award Winner.

Apt613: What is the current landscape for chefs in Ottawa?

Kat Ferries: There is such great talent in Ottawa with so many chefs either being from here originally or have returned after traveling and have since opened some incredible restaurants. Many chefs have focused menus that really highlight their strengths, their heritage, and their passion for food. Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay, Marc Doiron of Town/Citizen, Steve Wall of Supply & Demand, Daniela Manrique Lucca of The Soca Kitchen, and so many more are all cooking up beautiful and delicious food in this city.

If you care to make a prediction… Where is the food industry in Ottawa going for chefs in 2021?

The industry right now is, unfortunately, in a really tough spot. The pandemic has been so devastating on mental, physical and emotional levels for so many and I know that many of my friends in this industry are burning out. There are many discussions happening on work/life balance and what is healthy for everyone. Some may never return to the long, hard hours we are expected to put in day after day and instead opt for a more flexible schedule or hire more staff to lighten the load on everyone, with some even leaving the industry indefinitely. Some may throw themselves back into this industry 10x as hard and create some of the best restaurants and concepts we’ve yet to see. I think all that will happen after the pandemic though.

For this year, it’s mostly about survival and finding happiness in creating what we can in the spaces we have while following all the laws and guidelines from public health officials. I think we will see more chefs creating experiences for guests that we otherwise wouldn’t have: think pop-ups, virtual dinner clubs, cocktail seminars, collabs, etc.

Where in your wildest dreams could the Ottawa culinary community grow in your lifetime?

I would love to see the Ottawa community support more small, local restaurants so our streets are bustling late into the nights like they are in Montreal, New York, or Europe. Having a local restaurant to frequent should be so much more commonplace, where you can enjoy a night out more often than just Friday or Saturday night. I would also love to see many more of our local chefs highlighted for the amazing food they create!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

Turning all our restaurants into mini-markets for customers to enjoy the food and wine of their favourite places at home. We have bottle shops for all your wine, beer and cocktail needs as well as menus that reflect what each restaurant does best. Some have even pivoted to a point where they are 100% a store and have paused any type of “service-style” dining.

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Future of Ottawa: Fine Dining with Justin Champagne





This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Justin Champagne on the future of fine dining, or read posts from Kathryn Ferries on chefs or Quinn Taylor on bars.

Justin Champagne went to culinary school at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He got his start in fine dining restaurants at C Restaurant under Chef Robert Clark, then at Hawksworth Restaurant under Chef Eligh. He staged at three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn under Chef Dominque Crenn before moving to Ottawa and spending five years at Atelier, working his way up to Sous-Chef. He’s now the Head Chef of Bar Lupulus.

Apt613: What is the current landscape of fine dining restaurants in Ottawa?

Justin Champagne: Ottawa punches well above its weight class when it comes to quality restaurants in general. Fine dining is no exception to that—we have some amazing chefs here that are doing really great things. We also have some phenomenal sommeliers in town that are a huge factor when it comes to a guest’s experience in a fine dining restaurant. While there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in town I do believe there’s room for more, and definitely room for more creativity and unique styles of cooking! I think we’ll see more small fine dining restaurants opening up, “micro-restaurants” where there’s maybe 20 seats. This will be over the next few weeks as the industry did take a big hit financially with COVID-19, but we still have a lot of great young chefs who have the fire inside of them to open their own location!

If you care to make a prediction… Where is fine dining going in Ottawa in 2021?

I’m not sure it’ll be 2021 or 2022 with the way the vaccine rollout and stay-at-home order is going, but I do expect there to be a wave of people looking to go out to fine dining restaurants. We’ve been cooped up cooking for ourselves or ordering takeout for over a year now. People are getting antsy and ready to go out and have fantastic meals again with exceptional wine and not have to worry about doing all the dishes afterwards!

Where in your wildest dreams could fine dining go in Ottawa in your lifetime?

That’s the fun part about “fine dining,” it can go anywhere and it can mean many things. Fine dining is about amazing service and well thought out, unique food that the kitchen spent hours fussing over, being meticulous in execution. Outside of that, you can have a lot of fun and be creative in different ways. My wildest dream I guess is that fine dinning restaurants begin to thrive and are able to charge without backlash the kind of prices that they need to charge in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff a proper living wage!!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

I’m not sure if I would really say there’s been a best “innovation” in my industry during the pandemic, but I will say that seeing the “adaptability” by all the restaurants in Ottawa has been incredibly inspiring. Ottawa’s food scene has always been a tight-knit community, “everyone helping everyone” kind of mentality. And this pandemic has really helped show that—restaurants helping restaurants through all of this!

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Ottawa’s Giant Tiger chain celebrating 60 years in business





OTTAWA — An Ottawa staple, along with what might be the most famous cat in Canada, are celebrating a milestone Monday.

Giant Tiger is 60 years old.

“It all started with a very simple idea,” says Alison Scarlett, associate VP of communications at Giant Tiger. “Help Canadians save money every single day. Bring them products that they want and need. When you focus on those core principals, it really is quite simple to succeed.”

In 1961, Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The company now has more than 260 locations across Canada and employs roughly 10,000 people.

“If you were at our store on opening day 60 years ago, the in store experience would be a little bit different from your local Giant Tiger store today. So that’s changed. A lot of our products and offerings have changed or expanded as Canadian consumers wants and needs have changed or expanded,” says Scarlett.

The homegrown department store continues to be a favourite for many shoppers looking to for the best deals on everyday products.

Helen Binda has been shopping here for decades.

“Many years. I can’t remember when. I’ve always loved Giant Tiger. It’s always been a good store for me.”

“I think its amazing and I think that we need more department stores,” says shopper Fay Ball. “And if it’s Canadian, all the better.”

The Canadian-owned family discount store carries everything from clothing to groceries, as well as everyday household needs. They’ve also expanded their online store and like most retailers provide curbside pickup during the pandemic.

“Doing what is right for our customers, associates, and communities. That has enabled us to be so successful for all of these years,” says Scarlett.

To celebrate, Giant Tiger is hosting a virtual birthday party at 7 p.m. Monday with live musical performances from some iconic Canadian artists.

You can visit their Facebook page to tune in. 

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