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COVID-19 impacts far and wide across region

covid impacts
Ecole Olds High School students leave school on March 13. Schools across the province have been ordered to close in response to the COVID-19. Noel West/MVP Staff

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt across the region and beyond, impacting schools, businesses, seniors, municipal governments, sporting organizations, shoppers and many others.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a virus and having symptoms including cough, fever and, in severe cases, pneumonia.

Classes at all K-12 schools in the province, including the 11,000-student Chinook’s Edge School Division, and post-secondary institutions including Olds College, have been ordered cancelled in an attempt to reduce community transmission of the disease.

Kurt Sacher, the superintendent of Chinook’s Edge, said while no classes are now being held, staff members remain at schools.

“We are working on a plan where students or their parents can come in to get some of their belongings,” Sacher said Monday. “We recognize there will be a situation where they will need to get their stuff. Over the next week we hope to work with our schools and outline a plan for that. We ask everyone to be a little patient.”

Plans are in the works to possibly have online classes, he said.

“We are definitely going to be looking at online support options,” he said. “There are complexities there that could take some time. We are going to do our very best to support learning so students can move on to the next grade level next fall,” he said.

There are no plans to lay off teachers or staff in the division, he said.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, announced Sunday that all school classes were cancelled and daycares are being closed indefinitely.

“The new cases that have emerged, particularly demonstrating transmission into communities and school settings, means we need to put in place additional restrictions for schools, daycares, continuing care facilities, and worship gatherings,” said Hinshaw.

“These decisions are not made lightly and I know they will have a tremendous impact on Albertans’ day-to-day lives, particularly parents, children and seniors. It is crucial we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19.”

All long-term care and other continuing care facilities are advised to limit visitation to essential visitors only.

Town of Olds officials said Monday that in addition to Aquatic Centre and Sportsplex closures, the Town of Olds administration building, fire services building, operations centre, Nu2U thrift store, Olds Municipal Library and Olds Curling Club are also now closed to the public.

Mayor Michael Muzychka and Coun. Heather Ryan have been out of the country and will self-isolate upon their return for the suggested 14-day period, according to CAO Michael Merritt.

Both the Didsbury and Carstairs town offices remained open at press time Monday.

Mountain View County announced Monday that it has closed all facilities including the administrative office until April 1. The situation will be reviewed at that time.

The council meeting planned for March 25 has also been cancelled, along with the agricultural service board meeting on March 23.

“County services will continue to be available via telephone, email and other electronic means,” officials said.

Residents can contact the county during regular office hours at 403-335-3311 or via email [email protected].

“If residents know the staff they have been working with they can continue to contact them directly. The county will continue to review its business practices on an ongoing basis as the situation evolves and the mandates handed down by provincial authorities are incorporated.

“While the county’s business continuity plan calls for continuation of core services to our public, service levels, projects and other programs could be re-evaluated during this increasingly fluid situation.”

The county plans to post up-to-date information on COVID-19 on its social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Grocery stores in all area communities were very busy over the weekend, with many empty shelves at various times.

Jason Nixon, area MLA and minister of environment and parks and house leader, said Monday that the government plans to expedite the passing of budget legislation for front-line spending.

“We need to ensure funding is available for front-line health-care workers whose presence will be critical in treating Albertans who become seriously ill as we also call on all Albertans to reduce transmission and help flatten the curve of the virus’s progression, to spread those cases and the burden on the health system over a longer time,” said Nixon.

The government plans to spend an additional $500 million on front-line health-care support, he said.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Follow our special section for the latest local and national COVID-19 news, resources, FAQs and more.




Dan Singleton

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