The COVID-19 pandemic has forced places of worship to adapt.

Harvest Hills Alliance Church via phone 19/04/20

The ongoing pandemic that has been set from the COVID-19 outbreak has forced many businesses essential and non-essential into a difficult situation. But how has it affected places of worship or religious gatherings?

“It’s been challenging not impossible, but certainly different.”

I took a stroll up to Harvest Hills Alliance where I met with Rev. Myron Siemens. He said “It’s been challenging not impossible, but certainly different.” Rev. Siemens says the impact of COVID-19 has been immense since their church is not only a place of gathering for worship, but a shelter for those in need. The church helps the less fortunate by providing groceries or assisting some financially and even providing counselling for those with mental health struggles.

Rev. Myron Siemens captured during via live-stream 19/04/20

“Pull together what I believe is an effective live-stream.”

The church is not struggling as bad as they could have, since prior to the pandemic they opted to support donations electronically. This was a huge step forward as there are times they feel as though they are a tad bit behind in that area. Example of this is the fact that they had to turn the levers to ‘defcon 5’. Harvest had no way to live-stream or have the correct equipment to do so. “Less than 24 hours actually, we were able to pull it together using some fairly simple hardware, we were nevertheless able to pull together what I believe is an effective live-stream.” says Rev. Siemens.

Which is what the church believes to be a miracle being able to switch to this format overnight. Since the streaming has been going well they seek to keep it going into the future.

As Harvest continues to do what they can to social distance and battle this pandemic it’s still an ongoing struggle. Many of the amenities they offer cannot be active due to the gatherings sanction and many other laws in place too prevent spread of the virus. The church does aim to do whatever they can to assist the congregation and the surrounding communities moving forward, but it will be different not impossible.

~Daniel Siemens

SAIT NewsFile

Working during a pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 virus spread the majority of businesses have had to close and lay off their staff but some businesses that have been deemed as essential by the government have remained open, which means work for a few people during the pandemic. Grocery, liquor, cannabis stores and gas stations are just a few of the businesses that remain open during this time for the benefit of the public. Another business that has remained open is a company called FalkBuilt, FalkBuilt is building modular ICU components and therefore has been deemed essential during this time.

I honestly just feel grateful to still be working..

Mark Prentice is one of the few who is still working during this very trying time, he is a maintenance electrician at FalkBuilt, when interviewed about what it is like to work during a pandemic, Prentice said “Given that so many people have lost their jobs and their income I honestly just feel grateful to still be working and FalkBuilt is doing some very meaningful work right now.” Prentice goes on to say that he understands that financial assistance has been provided for those who have lost their jobs but he makes a lot more money working for FalkBuilt than he would if he were to claim the emergency unemployment benefits given by the government. Prentice also says that although he really is happy to be working right now he is also nervous about the virus itself “My wife had pleurisy as a child which has made her very susceptible to viruses such as COVID-19 and that does concern me a fair bit but I am taking all precautions to ensure that I do not put her at risk.” Prentice says working during a pandemic is definitely not easy but as long as we all do what we are told everything should be just fine.

I still have work yes but definitely not enough to survive on

For some people, working during a pandemic is very difficult and not work the risk. Christiaan Everts is a Cannasuer at a local dispensary and he says “I still have work yes but definitely not enough to survive on, I maybe get two or three shifts a week, I would be making more money if I were to just stay home and claim CERB.” Everts says that what he is making currently is not enough to cover all his bills he says he feels as though he is working a student job for some extra cash rather than a job he needs for sustainability he says it just is not worth the risk of getting incredibly sick but he is unsure what to do because you can not leave your job willingly and claim emergency funds from the government.

Working during the COVID-19 pandemic is very nerve racking for some and some wish they did have the option to just stay home and keep safe but when you are a worker of an essential business that is not always an option. Others do not find it too horrible like Mark Prentice but the fear of getting sick or of getting loved ones sick is still a factor.

written by Amy-Ellen Prentice

Teaching and learning from home.

Kindergarten student learning from home

Teachers have been delivering classes from home and students from kindergarten to post-secondary have been learning from home in Alberta; because of the social distancing guidelines set out by the Alberta government, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Teachers are concerned over some students not having access to technology at a given time due to their parents being essential workers.

“. . . I have deadlines”

“That poses a problem for me because I have deadlines, in school that wasn’t a issue, because I would be able to tell the kids this what you’re doing and give them recourses and class time work on that, on the particular assignment” said Reetu Atwal, a grade 1-12 English teacher.

Atwal says, as a parent it is hard as well. As her daughter, who is in kindergarten, was not prepared to do online studying.

“. . .but she’s not understanding that’s school now”

“For her looking at a screen and seeing her teacher on the screen is like a joke at times, or it’s just like having fun, like watching a YouTube video. But she’s not understanding that this is what school is now.” said Reetu Atwal, a grade 1-12 English teacher.”

Atwal says, teachers need to be patient while teaching younger children; and need to take a creative approach while teaching, as students have short attention spans.

Though, post secondary students have different worries as they are concerned about online schooling affecting their learning.

“. . . This puts us students at a disadvantage”

“Our lectures are pre-recorded and teachers are swamped with emails, so a reply to our questions will take more than a couple of days. This puts us students at a disadvantage” said Jasreet Jawanda a University of Calgary student.

In post secondary not receiving quick responses regarding lectures is challenging as it is time for finals.

For online schooling to be a concrete plan for the future both students and teachers need more direction in remote learning and teaching. As currently, students and teachers are having a hard time adjusting to this situation.

– Prina Atwal

Coronavirus pandemic changing Canadian’s work lives in a big way

Social distancing is a new term brought to us by the COVID-19 pandemic. As many of us are trying to navigate a ‘new normal’ during these unprecedented times, we realize how creative and resilient people really are. Working from home is a new reality for many and employers are trying to make that work for different jobs.

We dont have face to face meetings anymore,

Patti Shirkey, Director of Medical Imaging Rural Saskatchewan had to make a lot of changes to her daily work schedule. A usual day would include traveling to one of her 68 imaging sites across the province, but now all her work is done from home. “We don’t have any face to face meetings anymore so all my work is now done by email, the phone or by Webex.” says Shirkey.

Working from home is not an option for many people, and employers have had to take new precautionary steps to keep essential workers safe and healthy.

Even our employees are now in different buildings

Charles Shirkey, Building Operator, has had to make significant changes to the usual day to day operations. Making sure cleaning is done more regularly and supplies are always heavily stocked. Shirkey explains how employees are being split up, “Even our employees are now in different buildings, all working kind of separately rather than as a team so we can stay healthy and safe.”

-Hayley Shirkey

Melfort hospital prepares for COVID-19 pandemic

The Melfort Union Hospital is preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic in a different way than other northeast Saskatchewan hospitals. Melfort’s hospital was named one of the two COVID-19 hospitals in northeast Saskatchewan along with Nipawin’s hospital. The staff has had to learn new ways to deal with COVID patients. Weekly simulations, and team meetings have been getting the staff ready for the possible influx of cases.

“….Basically establishing a second hospital within our hospital….”

Nadine Degerness, the Facility administrator at the Melfort hospital says “we’ve been asked to expand our capacity from 31 beds to 60 beds, so basically establishing a second hospital within our hospital, has been a bit of a work load issue”. Not only has COVID-19 took a physical toll on many of the hospitals staff, but it has taken a mental toll as well.

“We talk everyday with the staff, to help manage also, their emotional health….”

Increasingly long days, and large amounts of new information coming in everyday has caused a bit of anxiety amongst the workers. Dinah Olsen, the nurse manager at the Melfort hospital says “We talk every day with the staff, to help manage also, their emotional health, a lot of them have worries about taking COVID home to their loved ones, so we talk about how they will manage their stress.”

There has yet to be any cases of COVID-19 in Melfort, but the hospital is taking every precaution to prepare for any possible outbreaks in the northeast.

Zach Degerness

Dawson – Practicum: Week 1

Cab·in fe·ver


irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.

“a great energy-burning game for exuberant Cubs with midwinter cabin fever”

There is currently no definition for “pandemic fever” aside from what that obviously actually means. I’ve left the house once in the last 2 weeks, and since then the world has become even more strict on travel outside. If the world weren’t wrought to it’s current state by the COVID-19 crisis I would be doing my practicum in Lloydminster, but with most reporters working from home it was too difficult for the station to supervise any practicum students–and the place I had planned to stay had to cancel for safety reasons.

Currently I am learning from Global News Calgary producer Joanne Reid, which I am both grateful for and excited about. Production behind the scenes is one of my passions and hearing about what goes on in the production room in industry is really enlightening–especially in circumstances like this one.

Reporting is considered an essential service right now, which means reporters are given paperwork to avoid fines if they are found out and about currently. With employees and workers in such short supply, Global Calgary even had to purpose the Edmonton show as an Alberta update for the weekend of March 21/22. Calgary anchors and reporters still did cut-ins with local news, but Joanne said that there were still complaints. She added that this is the first time in her career that they haven’t had a show to put together.

Joanne says that the Coronavirus has caused a phenomenon where the news seems to be covering a single ongoing story with several angles each day–akin to press coverage of 9/11. Trying to come up with story ideas to help has been difficult, and the schedule that Joanne works on adds some complications–but depending how this next week goes I could possibly catch meetings if I rework my sleep schedule. It needs some re-ordering anyway.

I was unable to do a video call with Joanne and on top of that there has been an issue with my video editing software so I have no blog project to show for this week, however I’ve had time to absorb and assess information on media coverage during the crisis.

The last few weeks have seen a lot of projects done from home for reporters, and with a short amount of staff in production there are instances where the workload becomes a bit more difficult–whether you see it or not. Sometimes the prompter doesn’t work, and an anchor will have to be more reliant on paper scripts. Sometimes an interview will need to be changed to be more topical, something that Global News had to do Thursday in order to remain relevant with COVID-19 information: a nutritionist was going to be on the show, but now, via skype, she was giving tips regarding eating healthy in quarantine. The restrictions on live interviews seem to limit them to being done on the porch of houses rather than inside–speaking to people on the street requires handing them the microphone (a practice not often recommended) or coming up with a method of holding it like a makeshift boom mic.

The city is much quieter, making events like crime suddenly an even bigger story to cover in news because it’s local. It’s an event. Otherwise stories tend to focus much more on personal experiences of individuals trying to make a difference, or those effected by the pandemic’s change.

It’s been stressful for workers. When some of us convened to speak about our practicum experience we talked about how our locations and supervisors were dealing with the experience. Reporters suddenly have a lot more difficulty trying to make B-Roll, and students under them especially so as they are advised not to leave home. Anchors need to stretch material for longer with more to say in order to fill the same timeframe that would normally be filled by much more diverse news. Producers need to extend the bounds of local stories more. Burn-out is a much more prevalent issue than before.

Currently, my “homework” has been to rewrite scripts and type up web-copy as a demonstration of what I can do, as well as put together story ideas for the upcoming week. Hopefully I haven’t bombed that.


Hungary parliament to give government extraordinary power amid COVID-19 pandemic

On Monday, Hungary’s Parliament passed a bill which gave Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government extraordinary powers during this COVID-19 Pandemic. The bill has no end date to when this power can be taken away.

“Who can say how many months of struggle we have to prepare for.”

This bill was approved by Orban’s party and other government supporters with 137 votes in favor of the bill and 53 against it. For the bill to be approved it needed 133 to pass.

The legislation has been criticized by many parties and people for not including a expiration date for the governments power. The bill also includes measures for false information which has made people concerned that the government can use this to quiet independent media outlets.

“A time limit cannot be declared in this situation because there is no one who can say how many months of struggle we have to prepare for.” Said Csaba Domotor, a deputy minister in Orban’s Cabinet Office.

Orban’s government did put in a decree which sets restrictions on leaving your home, with the exception of going to work and for food shopping.

Hungary has declared a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19. So far in Hungary there have been 447 cases and 15 deaths.

By: Declan Zaharia

Apple closes stores

Apple closed all of its stores outside of China for two weeks on Sunday.

The company will only be operating online until March 27 due to the novel corona virus pandemic.

“. . . maximize social distance”

“The most affective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance” said CEO Tim Cook.

CEO Tim Cook will be donating 15 million dollars to help with the worldwide recovery of COVID-19.

The closing of more than 500 apple retail stores will not affect employees, as they will continue to get paid.

– Prina Atwal

Alberta’s Corona virus total has reached 23

With the COVID – 19 threat still very active around Canada, Alberta has continued to get new cases daily. On March 9th, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported that there were only seven cases in Alberta. Six were presumptive and one was confirmed. She said the risk to exposure was low but that may change in coming weeks.

“COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving public threat”

On Thursday Dr. Hinshaw confirmed that the province total has now jumped to 23. Public events all across the country have been cancelled as the virus continues to spread. Hinshaw Says “As I mentioned yesterday, COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving public threat. It is more severe then seasonal influenza and more contagious than SARS.”

In a news release from the Alberta Government, it is asking all large gathering of the public or events to be shutdown in the province. They are also asking people not to gather in groups of larger then 250 people in one room.

Hinshaw stated that that these next step measures are aggressive but are intended to limit the spread of the virus.

Brody Ratcliffe

Alberta up to 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus

The Chief Medical Officer of Alberta Dr.Deena Hinshaw has confirmed seven new cases of the COVID-19 virus have appeared in Alberta, adding to the already existing seven cases. Four of the new cases are said to be in the Calgary zone while the other three are in the Edmonton zone. It has also been revealed that all cases within the province are travel related.

“The number of confirmed cases will likely continue to increase in the weeks ahead.”

In the Calgary zone, the infected range between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. Three infected are female and one is male. Many of the infected are said to have traveled to more than just one country. It is not yet confirmed where exactly the newly infected contracted the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. Hinshaw stated at an afternoon news conference in Edmonton, “Our public health measures are doing precisely what they were intended to do: detect new cases and take immediate action. This means that the number of confirmed cases will likely continue to increase in the weeks ahead. But it’s important to remember that every new travel-related case that is confirmed represents another case where we can take an action to isolate the virus and prevent its spread.”

The Alberta government is continuing to monitor situation but still says the risk level in the province is low. As of today, the World Health Organization has labelled the coronavirus as a pandemic. If you believe you are showing symptoms please contact Health Link at 8-1-1 or go online to the Health Link

  • Calvin Hector