OTTAWA -- The slow march back to school in the depths of a global pandemic continues, while school bus companies are short on drivers. COVID-19 cases in Ottawa continue to climb. The Confederation Line is one year old. And the city hears an update on two natural disasters. looks at five stories to watch this week, Sept. 13-19.

Back to school

Elementary students in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and secondary students in the Ottawa Catholic School Board return to school this week.

The OCDSB's gradual return to class plan varies depending on the nature of each school, but generally speaking, Grades 1-3 begin on Monday, Grades 4-6 begin on Tuesday, and Grades 7-8 begin on Wednesday.

In the OCSB, Grades 9-12 students in Cohort A return to in-person classes, while Cohort B returns on Tuesday. The cohorts attend on alternating days, with remote learning on the days when they are not in class.

School masks

Bus driver shortage

More than 2,300 students in the OCDSB and the OCSB will not have school bus service this week.

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority says it is dealing with severe driver shortages and had to cut 30 routes, affecting 45 schools.

Yellow school bus service for the OCDSB and the OCSB was already delayed by one week because of logistical requirements.

School bus

Growing COVID-19 cases

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is growing, with 111 new cases between Friday and Sunday. Last week, Ottawa was a called a COVID-19 "hot spot" by the Premier of Ontario, as it has been frequently in the top three cities for number of daily new cases.

This week, eyes will be on schools across the city. Four students and two staff members at six different French Catholic schools in Ottawa have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, though none of them were exposed at school.

There are no active outbreaks at any Ottawa schools.

Two outbreaks at long-term care homes in the city—Laurier Manor and West End Villa, both run by Extendicare—have seen their case counts rise in recent days.


Anniversary of LRT launch

Monday marks one full year of Confederation Line service in Ottawa.

The $2.1 billion light rail system that runs on 12.5 km of tracks from Tunney's Pasture Station to Blair Station, with a tunnel under downtown, officially opened to the public Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

In the following months, the system would be plagued with issues, from stuck doors, to faulty brakes, and glitches in the onboard computer systems. Winter would bring frozen switch heaters and salt damage to overhead wires.

In the spring, prompted by the massive drop in ridership caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire system was shut down several times for extended maintenance as the City of Ottawa urged the consortium that built and maintains the line to find solutions its issues before the end of the summer.

The transit commission meets on Wednesday.

Ottawa LRT summer

Update on 2018 tornadoes and 2019 flood

Ottawa's community and protective services committee meets on Thursday and an update on the recovery process from two major natural disasters is on the agenda.

Six tornadoes struck the Ottawa and Gatineau region on Sept. 21.

The six tornadoes combined to destroy more than 50 homes in Ontario, mainly in the Dunrobin area. More than 200 buildings were damaged or destroyed in Gatineau. Ten people were injured in Calabogie.

In 2019, record-breaking spring flooding forced evacuations along the Ottawa River in eastern Ontario and western Quebec for the second time in three years. Several communities experienced flooding, including Constance Bay, Fitzroy Harbour, Arnprior, Pembroke, Gatineau and Pontiac. The Canadian military was deployed to Ottawa, Gatineau and across the Ottawa Valley to help with flood relief efforts.