COVID-19 Update January 20th, 2021

Memo to: People we Support, Families, Guardians and Skills Society Employees

Re: Prevention and Preparedness Regarding the Novel-Corona Virus (COVID-19)

From: Senior Leadership of Skills Society

January 20, 2021

COVID-19 Cases in Alberta and at Skills Society

As of January 18th, Alberta has 11,096 active cases (3,875 in the Edmonton zone), and 456 new cases were identified.

In our Skills Society Community, to date and since the beginning of the pandemic 33 individuals we serve and 37 employees have tested positive with COVID-19. The majority of cases being in November and December when community transmission in Alberta seemed to have peaked. Some good news is, we haven’t had a positive case now in over a week and most people now are out of quarantine. The sacrifices people made over the holidays to stay distanced and connected through virtual means are paying off in seeing reduced transmission across Alberta. However, the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr. Hinshaw, continues to remind Albertans we are not out of the woods yet and need to remain vigilant and follow all COVID-19 safety precautions. 

Preparing for COVID-19 Immunization Eligibility – Consent from Individuals we Support & Guardians

Skills Society is preparing for when the people we support will be eligible to receive COVID-19 immunization and therefore have been gathering the names of people we support who consent to receiving COVID-19 immunization when it is available. Skills Society has not received confirmation of when COVID-19 immunization for the people we support will happen. Due to the limited number of vaccines, Alberta Health Services (AHS) determines priority groups for immunization. Once we receive further information we will do our best to communicate this in a timely manner. We continue to advocate that the people we support and all Skills employees have the choice to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Again, timelines for who is eligible to get vaccinated when are made by Health Authorities. Currently we have not been told what phase of the vaccine rollout our sector will be included in. 

Individuals we support and guardians have been contacted by Team Leaders and/or Managers to gather consent. Skills is requesting that consent, and all necessary forms, be completed by no later than January 26th, 2021 – Skills requires consent to release information to AHS when we are contacted. If AHS contacts us sooner to expedite this process, we may need consent sooner than January 26th. 

Changes to Mandatory Public Health Measures

“We want to stop as a province going back and forth with tightening and then loosening the rules… and I’m sure that Albertans are tired of going back and forth themselves” 

– Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health 

“Although we’ve seen a decline in transmission, our health-care system is still at risk. We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring our numbers down even further. By easing some measures like outdoor gathering limits, we hope to support Albertans’ mental health, while still following other restrictions that are helping us reduce case numbers.”

– Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health 

Below we are sharing what we know about the changes to the public health measures on January 18th, and the implications we understand at present.

Reminder of a few pressures we must navigate regarding health measures

  • The mandatory restrictions in effect are for all Albertans
  • The supports that Skills Society provide fall into a grey zone where we are not operating under specific standards set up for Designated Supportive Living (DSL), Long Term Care (LTC), Supportive Living Accommodation Licensing Act (SLALA) or any health facilities, but we strive to implement CMOH recommendations as best we can while maintaining safe staffing models
  • We are not the guardian of anyone we serve and need to respect the choices, rights and decisions of individuals we serve and guardians
  • We support people in their own homes. People we support procure our support services through the government PDD system to support people in their own homes
  • We have worked with every person we support, and guardians to create individual and roommate COVID-19 safety plans, but the provincial restrictions also have to be followed by all citizens
  • Our employees have to follow all of our policies and procedures and safety protocols 
  • We strive to get provincial and ministry information out to people as quickly as possible so people we serve and guardians can make informed and safe decisions, but it is also up to citizens we serve and guardians to be aware of provincial and municipal safety measures and restrictions that apply to all citizens of Alberta

On January 18th restriction changes were made by the Government; easing restrictions on outdoor gatherings, funerals and personal and wellness services. All other mandatory restrictions remain in place until further notice. For more information visit

As per our memo on January 11th, 2021 to people we support, families, guardians, and employees, Skills Society’s temporary COVID-19 measures regarding supporting non-essential outings remains in place until further notice (please see the January 11th memo for additional details). These temporary measures are in place to help protect staffing models and further reduce potential transmission of COVID-19. As with the provincial mandatory public health restrictions, the Skills temporary measures are continuously reviewed and extended as needed. 

Outdoor social gatherings

Effective January 18th, provincewide for all citizens, outdoor social gatherings are permitted with the following restrictions: 

  • outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people maximum
  • must not have an indoor component (i.e., backyard gatherings that require movement in/out of homes are not permitted)
  • attendees should remain distanced at all times and follow all public health measures
  • don’t share food/drinks

Indoor social gathering restrictions remain in place provincewide. All indoor social gatherings, both public and private, are prohibited, and close contacts are limited to household members only. 

Skills is strongly recommending that people we support keep outdoor visits/social gatherings small (i.e., 5 people including yourself) – limiting the number of in person contacts. The following recommendations from Health Authorities (CMOH Order 29-2020) were discussed and negotiated as part of individual and roommate plans: 

  • limit outdoor visits to 5 people including yourself
  • maintain physical distance of 2m between all people (with the exception of those from the same household) 
  • visitors wear a mask outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained

People we serve and guardians are asked to reference individual and roommate COVID-19 safety plans regarding outdoor visits/gatherings, while following and abiding by all municipal and provincial restrictions and health measures.

Thank you to everyone for continuing to protect each other and hang in a bit longer. This won’t last forever and progress is being made thanks to everyone’s efforts. 


Senior Leadership Team of Skills Society


For More Information

  • If you are a family or guardian and require additional information please be in touch with the manager associated with your loved one’s support. 
  • If you are a Skills Employee and require additional information you can be in touch with your supervisor or Pandemic Coordinators, Linda or Ed at 780-496-9686.

Previous Public Memos

Public Memos are available on our website under the ‘news’ tab.

March 3rd COVID-19 Update →

March 12th COVID-19 Update →

March 16th COVID-19 Update →

March 20th COVID-19 Update →

March 27th COVID-19 Update →

April 3rd COVID-19 Update →

April 9th COVID-19 Update →

April 13th COVID-19 Update →

April 17th COVID-19 Update →

May 1st COVID-19 Update→

May 15th COVID-19 Update →

June 5th COVID-19 Update –>

June 12th COVID 19 Update →

June 23rd COVID-19 Update → 

July 24th COVID-19 Update → 

August 11th COVID-19 Update →

August 18th Board of Directors COVID-19 Update →

August 21st Sharing Further Health Recommendations on Ways to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 →

September 2nd A Message from Skills Society’s Pandemic Coordinator →

September 11th Ways That We Can All Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 →

September 18th  COVID-19 Update → 

October 2nd COVID-19 Update → 

October 30th COVID-19 Update → 

November 10th Very Important Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 Prevention and Preparedness → 

November 16th Very Important Message Regarding Prevention and Preparedness for COVID-19 Increasing Cases → 

November 25th Very Important Message Regarding Prevention and Preparedness for COVID-19 – New Mandatory Public Health Measures → 

December 10th Very Important Message Regarding Prevention and Preparedness for COVID-19 – New Mandatory Public Health Measures → 

December 22nd Stay Safe and Best Wishes for the Holidays → 

January 5th Happy New Year and Important Message → 

Note: What’s happening with COVID-19 is changing rapidly. We become aware of new information from the provincial and federal governments and health authorities on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. We are working hard to be responsive to this new information as it becomes available. As such, information in this memo may change and quickly become outdated. We are doing our best to communicate new information to the people we support, families, guardians, and staff in a timely manner.