Spring brake: Ideas for next week that follow the stay-at-home rules

·3 min read
A family picnics on the boardwalk at Dows Lake. While many traditional spring break activities are on hold this year, there still are countless options — as long as you use a bit of creativity. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)
A family picnics on the boardwalk at Dows Lake. While many traditional spring break activities are on hold this year, there still are countless options — as long as you use a bit of creativity. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)

School's out for summer?

That's still not clear, but Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said Friday that in-person school likely won't resume immediately after next week's delayed spring break.

And there's no question the usual spring break pursuits need to be carefully considered after the province pulled the COVID-19 emergency brake earlier in the week and issued a stay-at-home order.

Camps have been cancelled, leaving working parents with child-care issues and few options. Visiting grandparents or other older relatives — even those with their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on board — is in many cases still off-limits, Etches said.

Even heading to the cottage or across the river to Gatineau Park is against recommendations.

"We shouldn't be leaving our regions. It really truly is a stay-at-home order. There are options here in Ottawa. There are parks. You can walk around the block. You shouldn't be crossing the bridge to go to Quebec," said Anthony Di Monte, the city's head of emergency and protective services, on Friday.

"You shouldn't be leaving your neighborhood just to go and [prance] around in other areas. This is serious."

So what are families to do this year? Even with the rules in place, there are more than a few options.

Akwa Udoeyop, 10, is a Grade 5 student at Elmdale Public School in Ottawa.
Akwa Udoeyop, 10, is a Grade 5 student at Elmdale Public School in Ottawa. (Julie Nkanta)

Akwa Udoeyop has big plans for his week off, including making stop motion videos, playing board games, and binge-watching Netflix' Family Reunion Part 3 with his mom, Julie Nkanta.

The 10-year-old's outside activities will include chalk art, hopscotch, basketball, badminton, ring toss and skipping rope.

"Akwa will ride his bike around the neighbourhood and weather permitting, we will go to a walking and bike trail," wrote Nkanta.

Kristin Debs and her three kids have a special picnic planned for spring break.
Kristin Debs and her three kids have a special picnic planned for spring break.(Kristin Debs)

Ottawa's Kristin Debs also has a plan.

"For April break, I've decided to plan an at home 'camp' for my three kids," wrote Debs in an email.

"We'll have a more structured morning with some activities and some academics. And then special activities in the afternoon such as picnics, maybe a teddy bear picnic, themed activities, [and] a baking day."

Chalk art spotted in a Vanier neighbourhood driveway.
Chalk art spotted in a Vanier neighbourhood driveway.(Nicole McRae)

Singer-songwriter Jeremy Fisher and his wife Sherri MacLeod have come up with some creative ways to engage their two daughters, aged five and one.

The family has built a backyard "kitchen" out of scrap wood, with plans afoot to craft meals out of mud.

There's also a dance party in the offing. And their five-year-old is signed up for virtual French programming with Ottawa's 1, 2, 3 Petit Pas.

Jeremy Fisher gives his wife Sherri MacLeod credit for planning '80 per cent' of their two daughters' spring break activities.
Jeremy Fisher gives his wife Sherri MacLeod credit for planning '80 per cent' of their two daughters' spring break activities.(CBC Music)

And of course, there's music.

"We turn toilet paper rolls … into flutes. We make shakers out of things," Fisher told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

"I'm a big advocate of really making it about play and making the instrument yourself. You can really drag out … you can really extend the fun of that kind of activity if you make it yourself and then really let them lead it."

People also weighed in on Twitter.

Despite the tough rules in place for spring break, Etches is striking a hopeful note.

"We will get to a point where people who are immunized will have more freedom — when there's a little bit more evidence of more herd immunity," Etches said.

"We know that these days are coming."