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People walk past Cambridge Elementary School, which was ordered closed for two weeks by Fraser Health due to a COVID-19 outbreak, in Surrey, B.C., on Nov. 15, 2020.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

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School’s out

Re B.C. Schools Considering Extended Break (Nov. 17): Many families will likely not cancel Christmas. And for most of us grandparents who are following COVID-19 guidelines, our grandchildren in classrooms are the riskiest vector for transmission.

Schools should close in early December to give everyone a chance to self-isolate for 14 days and gather safely for Christmas. Schools could then reopen two weeks later for another period of self-isolation – and staff, students and families would all have a healthy and happy new year.

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Lynda Langdon Thornhill, Ont.

After the experience of a nearly six-month extension of March Break, it is hard to trust that any amendments to the school year would be time-limited as scheduled.

Children have finally been given some semblance of normalcy, settling into routines and adapting to various COVID-19 protocols at school. An extended disruption to the academic year would not benefit students and would likely pose more health risks.

It should be imperative that we remain committed to stable, consistent education for our children, and not jeopardize the significant gains that have been made.

Samantha Fuss Toronto

Church and COVID-19

Re Unfettered Freedom Is Creating Tragedy (Nov. 16) and Quebec Premier Legault Offers ‘Moral Contract’ To Potentially Allow Christmas Gatherings; Lockdown Order Extended Until Jan. 11 (Nov. 19): How come laïcité only seems to apply to ensuring that things Christians do are protected, and the activities of everyone else stand to be barred?

If the secular state is a thing, then it should have no concern for religious festivals. COVID-19 is certainly a secular thing, and it won’t have any concern at all.

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Melinda Munro Windsor, Ont.

Not like the other

Re U.S. To Drop Case Against Ex-Mexican Defence Minister (Nov. 18): Excuse me? The United States is letting go Salvador Cienfuegos, long accused of massive drug crime, because of “sensitive foreign policy considerations,” while Canada still feels obliged to detain Meng Wanzhou at the demand of the same authorities.

Does Canada have no sensitive foreign policy considerations? For instance, freeing Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. It seems our belief in the rule of law has been openly abused by an administration that sees law as a mere convenience.

Canada should let Ms. Meng go – on the same grounds as the U.S. has freed Mr. Cienfuegos – to defend our own sovereign interests.

George Haynal Ottawa

On the regular

Re Black Astronaut To Make History In Extended Stay On Space Station (Nov. 16): U.S. Navy commander Victor Glover is now aboard the International Space Station. To join this tiny group of humans required a lifetime of competition with the super elite of human skills and applied intelligence. Amazing.

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I look forward to the point in human evolution when headlines saluting achievements like Mr. Glover’s no longer need say Black.

Mike Firth Toronto

Trump show

Re Trump Is Staging A Show, Not A Coup (Opinion, Nov. 14): I was 9 when Nathan Phillips lost an election after serving for years as the popular mayor of Toronto. It was late when the results came in, but my mother made me stay up to watch his concession speech on television. She wanted me to see how one loses with grace.

I remember like it was yesterday. And I am reminded now as I recoil from watching what unfolds south of the border.

Jerry Amernic Toronto

Re Next For The U.S. (Letters, Nov. 16): A letter-writer states that “Donald Trump’s family made their own money, and he donates his presidential salary to various causes.”

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When Mr. Trump has hosted visitors at his Mar-a-Lago resort, he has charged the U.S. government for the service. He wanted to host the G7 at one of his properties. The Secret Service pays his companies for lodgings. And while Mr. Trump gives away his presidential salary, his companies collect many times more than that.

Perhaps after Jan. 20, we will get all the details.

Ivan Lobo Toronto

Make it so

Re Rebirth Of The Promenade (Nov. 13): Ottawa has an opportunity to create a grand promenade emblematic of Canada at the heart of the nation’s capital.

When the Queen Elizabeth Driveway closed to vehicles as a COVID-19 measure through the summer, it became crowded with walkers and cyclists. My citizens group is urging that the QED, which sees only sparse traffic, be permanently closed to vehicles.

A new promenade would encompass Canada’s institutions and history, running from Parliament Hill and up the west side of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It would embrace the Canadian love of nature with trees and greenery. It would reflect Canada’s vitality with cafés, bars, sports fields, picnic areas and outdoor stages. It would even embrace winter, with facilities for skaters on the frozen Rideau.

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The Queen Elizabeth Promenade begs to be born.

Jack Hanna Vice-president, Centretown Community Association; Ottawa

Re Rethinking The Nest: It’s Time For A New Approach To Housing (Opinion, Nov. 14): We are building Nova Scotia’s first co-housing community. Like a tiny village, it has a dense cluster of private dwellings around a shared green space and a common house.

Co-housing encourages people to know their neighbours and offers a solution to the isolation that has become epidemic in Canada. We all need the support of a community, especially when considering children, older age and illness. The pandemic is showing us the importance of a support network when we are suddenly home-schooling or quarantining far from our extended families.

Governments, community planners and housing developers could do more to encourage the growth of co-housing. Meanwhile, we’re doing it ourselves.

Wayne Groszko Treehouse Village Ecohousing; Bridgewater, N.S.

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Who is Alec?

Re I Remember Alex Trebek (Nov. 20): In the pre-Internet days of the early 1970s, when the only way to hear out-of-town radio stations was to fiddle with the dial late at night, my favourite station was CBL-740 Toronto and its 1 a.m. Ontario weather reports.

I can still hear Leon Mangoff rattling off the nightly lows in remote locations like Rainy Lake, Pickle Lake, Atikokan and Kenora. It took a little while to translate Celsius to Fahrenheit, unless the low was minus 40. But before signing off and playing O Canada and God Save the Queen, Mr. Mangoff would encourage listeners to tune in at 5:07 (or was it 5:08?) for a program hosted by Alec (not Alex) Trebek.

Twenty years later, I was a contestant on Jeopardy! and during the preshow interview, where contestant co-ordinators would struggle to find interesting tidbits for Mr. Trebek’s brief chats, I mentioned hearing his name on the late-night broadcasts.

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” I was told, “Alex will get a kick out of that … but save that for your second show.” Alas, the wrong answer in Final Jeopardy! ended my tenure.

It would have been fun to recite the names of obscure Ontario hamlets – and probably be the only contestant to begin his response with, “Well, Alec …”

Jim Vespe Mamaroneck, N.Y.

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