Memo to: People we Support, Families, Guardians and Skills Society Employees
Re: Very Important Message Regarding Prevention and Preparedness for COVID-19 – New Mandatory Public Health Measures
From: Senior Leadership of Skills Society
November 25, 2020
Message from Executive Director, Ben Weinlick
These are not easy times for anyone. We all yearn for connection and for people with disabilities who are often more isolated than other citizens, this is especially tough. However, the reality is a majority of the people we support could be at risk of complications if COVID-19 is contracted. As you know we have taken a very cautious approach since the beginning of the pandemic to protect people as best we can. But we cannot control all aspects of how the virus spreads. We all need to do our part as good citizens to protect each other- to protect our vulnerable parents, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, children, and neighbours we share community with. Over 70% of COVID-19 cases currently are untraceable and this is very concerning as it means community transmission is very high. 40% of positive cases are arising from simple acts of having someone over to one’s home for a visit. Health authorities and the Premier have told all Albertans that the big spike in cases in recent weeks is due mostly to visitors in private homes and due to people coming to work with symptoms of COVID-19. The Premier summarized the reason for the new measures in the quote below.
“Our policy is based on protecting the vulnerable, while minimizing damage to our broader social health. But, in order to protect the vulnerable we all have to do our part in limiting community spread. Because we could have the very best systems in the world, but inevitably if there is widespread community transmission of this virus, it does and will get into nursing homes and other places where the vulnerable live.”
Premier Jason Kenney during his November 24th, 2020 address
Please especially take note below of some new ways people we support can connect with others safely online through the new Kudoz connection we have and the Virtual CommuniTEA Connection events. These will be helpful to keep connected in the coming weeks. Be kind to each other and stay safe.
COVID-19 Cases in Alberta and at Skills Society
As of November 24th Alberta has 13,349 active cases (6,128 in the Edmonton zone), and 1,115 new cases were identified on November 23rd.
To date and since the beginning of the pandemic 5 individuals we serve and 14 employees have tested positive with COVID-19. So far we have heard these cases have been mild to asymptomatic. We wish everyone who contracts this virus well and our hearts go out to them. Whenever there is a positive case, all those connected are contacted and we follow advice from the Alberta Health Services Coordinated COVID-19 Response Team. No one intends to catch this virus and our whole Skills community needs to extend kindness and compassion to all who contract it.
Below we are sharing the public health measures the Premier and Minister of Health introduced yesterday that affects all Albertans and is part of trying to get on top of the spread of COVID-19. The measures below are what we know at present from yesterday’s announcement. It may shift in the coming days or week(s) and we will update as soon as possible as new information emerges.
NEW Mandatory Public Health Measures
Watch the Premier’s Nov 24th, 2020 address here.
On November 24th Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency and new mandatory measures to stop the spike of COVID-19 cases. These measures will be reviewed in 3 weeks. Below are images displaying key points of the new mandatory restrictions. For more information visit alberta.ca/COVID19.
The Measures Mean the Premier and Health Minister are Requiring That There Be No Visitors in Anyone’s Home
Effective November 24th, province wide, no indoor social gatherings are permitted in any setting (i.e., private homes). Indoor close contacts must be limited to people in the same household. This means no visitors to people’s homes for the duration of the mandatory restrictions. We recognize this is tough but it is critical that everyone do their part to reduce COVID-19 transmission and keep loved ones and community safe. We encourage people to continue connecting virtually or by phone, and we have shared additional opportunities to stay engaged and connected during this time (see below).
Helping People Stay Connected and Safe
We, at Skills Society, have been spearheading a new Virtual Community Building Initiative to keep people connected and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. How the people we support can get involved:
- Become a Virtual Community Builder: A Virtual Community Builder (VCB) is someone we support who is friendly, interested in having conversation with others to brighten up their day, and excited to meet new people “virtually”. They are conversation stewards – connecting with other people within Skills through informal ‘tea time’ chats using an online platform called “Zoom”. VCBs will be supported by a Skills staff in their role, are required to participate in an orientation, and will be paid an honorarium for each conversation they steward.
- Sign up for a Virtual Chat with a Community Builder: People we support who may be feeling socially disconnected, bored, or lonely, can sign up for a virtual chat with a community builder. A VCB will arrange a time to connect with the person online over a platform called Zoom. Together they can chat, have tea, and maybe even play some games.
- Participate in Weekly Virtual CommuniTEA Connection Activities: These might include things like preparing a snack together, having a conversation around a specific topic, or doing a guided art project. See the latest schedule of events here: www.skillssociety.ca/covid-19-resources. Everyone we support is welcome to register for these events!
Have a special skill or talent you would like to share with the Skills community? …Have an idea for a CommuniTEA Connections Event? …Interested in becoming a Virtual Community Builder?
Let us know! Feel free to get in touch with Jessica the Virtual Community Building Initiative Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to sign up or learn more.
New Virtual Connections Opportunity for People we Support!
Our friends at Kudoz, in partnership with co-make-do are offering a range of daily experiences that the people we support can join. These experiences are free and connect folks with self, community and the wider world. Experiences include things like chats, classes, and digital cafes. Everyone we support is welcome to participate in these experiences!
Here are a few examples of upcoming online experiences this week:
- November 26th
- Expressive Arts @ 3:30pm
- November 27th
- Kudoz Chat Hub @ 12pm
- Coffeehouse @ 2pm
- Yoga and Stretching @ 5pm
Want to Join an Event?
Simply click on the Zoom link in the event’s description at the time of the event to join.
People can also sign up for a weekly newsletter (email) that features experiences and resources and/or event reminders (phone number) by clicking here.
If you have questions about participating in these events please contact Rebecca (email@example.com).
We are very grateful to our Skills community for doing their best to protect each other through following Public Health orders, City Bylaws, and our very thorough Skills Society COVID-19 safety procedures.
This pandemic will not last forever and we all look forward to the times when we can safely be together and celebrate each other’s courage, compassion and empathy.
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.
- Keep up to date on our COVID-19 Resources section on our website: https://skillssociety.ca/covid19-resources/.
Previous Public Memos
Public Memos are available on our website under the ‘news’ tab.
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.