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Kramberger: Virtual events are a good way to ease pandemic stress

The Gazette logo The Gazette 2020-11-27 Albert Kramberger, Montreal Gazette
a close up of a toy: Every Monday at 1 p.m., Beaconsfield hosts an all-ages Lego challenge on Facebook. Kids can share photos of their creations. © James Masters Every Monday at 1 p.m., Beaconsfield hosts an all-ages Lego challenge on Facebook. Kids can share photos of their creations.

It’s hard to keep a positive outlook faced with ongoing pandemic restrictions, cancelled in-person activities, repeated calls to respect social distancing in the midst of daily reports of positive COVID-19 cases and related deaths.

It may only provide a spell of relief for COVID-19 related stress, from worries about sending kids to school or whether it’s safe to visit elderly family members, but West Islanders should take advantage of the growing number of virtual events being offered online . Local municipal libraries are hosting things like Zoom book clubs and live webcast conferences.

Schools across the West Island and off-island are hosting virtual book fairs or holiday craft fairs . These events, of course, were normally held in the schools, inviting the community to show up in person.

Sure, your children can relax at home by reading books, playing video games with friends online, or keep busy outside with walks, using their backyard trampoline or practice their street-hockey skills. But on top of that, there are various age-appropriate virtual activities hosted by local cities and libraries. For instance, Beaconsfield has a Lego challenge Monday afternoons. Dorval’s teen zone club is hosting an online murder mystery night on Dec. 4, while the city is running a virtual talent show contest , which is accepting video entries until Dec. 9.

I’ve noted in past columns it’s important to keep elementary and high schools open for academic and socializing needs, albeit with mask-wearing and ventilation upgrades being imperative. I think parents should encourage some online fun activities for their kids, and perhaps suggest their circle of friends take part as well.

Speaking of socializing, Quebec’s open window for up to 10 people to gather around Christmas is a mixed blessing, of sorts. It does exclude the timing of non-Christian celebrations, for one thing. But let’s face it, many families — deeply religious or not — would probably gather at some point during the holidays, whether they adhered to limiting the number of guests or quarantining ahead of time. It was a no-win situation for the Legault government to ease restrictions over the holidays.

I don’t mean to take the provincial government off the hook; its pandemic management has had many shortcomings. This even includes flip-flopping on postponing English school board elections initially slated for early November and then — out of nowhere — opting to reschedule them for Dec. 20. Update : On Thursday, Quebec has once again postponed school board elections until further notice.

It’s not going to happen this year, but online voting or mail-in ballots for school board or municipal elections should become the norm, in light of both ongoing pandemic concerns as well as the probability of boosting voter turnout.

If city councils and school governing boards can now hold virtually attended public meetings online, why not give voters access to online options, particularly for these local elections.

Until then, take advantage of local family-friendly virtual leisure activities to help you to remain steadfast during the pandemic lockdown.



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