August 18, 2020
Dear Individuals, Families, Guardians and Colleagues:
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Hart Chapelle and I am the Board Chair of the Skills Society. I am writing to you on behalf of the Skills Board of Directors to address a number of issues related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Recent Increase in COVID-19 Cases Across Alberta and in the Edmonton Zone
On Monday, August 17, 2020, the Government of Alberta (GOA) reported a significant increase in COVID-19 cases across the province, including in the Edmonton Zone. The Edmonton Zone currently has the most active cases (593), up 96 cases from Friday, August 14. Yesterday, Mayor Don Iveson stated that he was concerned and disappointed with the rise of new COVID-19 cases in Edmonton. The City of Edmonton is assessing what more it can do to protect communities most at risk.
COVID-19 cases are also on the rise in the Edmonton Region PDD sector. Approximately 10 individuals and 30 staff across 11 PDD service providers have tested positive. In spite of our very best efforts, one individual supported by the Skills Society and three staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
Battling the COVID-19 Pandemic
At the first hint of the COVID-19 virus, the Skills Society began to prepare for a possible pandemic. We recognized early on that many of the people we support are compromised by chronic health conditions and by advancing years. We were also very concerned about the health and safety of our staff, and for others who come into contact with the people we support. We all have a serious responsibility to each other to prevent community spread to the greatest extent possible; our lives may literally depend on our attention to detail in this regard.
From the very beginning of the pandemic, the Skills Society has been strict in its adherence to the GOA’s Communicable Disease Control requirements and guidelines. We thank Dr. Deena Hinshaw and her team for the clear and calm guidance they provide. We thank Community and Social Services Ministry staff Tom Sutton, Anita Farrah and their teams for their help and guidance in navigating the pandemic. We look forward to ongoing support from the GOA as we continue our battle with the COVID-19 virus.
Some of the precautions taken to prevent virus spread may seem onerous or unnecessary. However, at this stage in the pandemic, we have seen what can happen when strict adherence to prevention protocols are not followed.
Thank You to our Staff Team
On behalf of the Board, I extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Skills Executive Director Ben Weinlick and all of our valuable staff for the enormous day and night efforts you have undertaken to support the ongoing health, safety and well-being of the people Skills supports. Your Board of Directors recognizes this pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime and is uncharted territory for all of us. The learning curve has been steep, with many complexities and competing interests arising along the way. The pandemic is clearly a marathon, not a sprint.
Thank you to Families, Guardians and Friends
We thank our families, guardians and friends for your understanding, patience and support over the past months. We know how much you love your daughters, sons and friends. Please be assured that, with your help and ongoing support, we will continue to provide the best possible support to your loved ones.
Communication is Key
Ben and his team will continue to provide updates as things progress. Should you have questions or concerns, please reach out. Stay safe. If we all continue to work together, we will prevail.