Schools, daycares suspended in virus scare

Events canceled, rec facilities closed

Leader staff

It was only a matter of time, before the impact of the COVID 19 virus hit close to home. That happened in at least a couple of ways early last week, and it grew from there. The final and most dramatic measure in a remarkable week was the closure of all schools and daycares.

However, on a positive note, (as of 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, at least) there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the Slave Lake area. This news came from one of Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman’s regular online updates. In it, he urged parents and employers to work out a way of dealing with the sudden complications involved with all those kids suddenly at home and in need of supervision.

The local impact started on March 7, with the cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse. Several local people – 14 athletes, two coaches, one official, a Team Alberta North volunteer staff – were to take part. Scratch that.

The next to go was the annual Northern Lakes College Round Dance, which was scheduled for March 21. Too risky, said NLC, acting on advice from Alberta Health Services. A few days later, a workshop at the college featuring entrepreneur Craig Elias was also canceled.

The new sporting program Everybody Plays! cancelled its first event, because of the virus. This was to be curling on March 22.

An event to raise funds to help a local quadriplegic on March 29 was postponed. The opposite of a cancellation also happened. Loon River First Nation, north of Slave Lake, held a community presentation on the virus on March 17.

There will likely be many more cancellations that we have missed.

Those were events. Other less-well-documented reactions have been going on. A run on toilet paper and other items at local stores is one that mimics what is going on elsewhere in the country and the world. We heard from one large store in Slave Lake that sales on Friday, March 13 exceeded those of Christmas Eve – always the busiest day of any year.

“This is strange,” remarked one grocery store shopper. “There’s no spaghetti.”

A clerk at another store told The Leader, “we’ve got a mushroom soup shortage!”

School divisions were keeping a close eye on the situation, which by March 11 had been declared a ‘pandemic’ by the World Health Organization. The chair of the High Prairie School Division told The Leader no overseas school trips had been canceled yet. But that was before the province canceled all classes.

With the National Hockey League suspending its season on Thursday, the Rotary Club’s NHL Playoff pool was put into limbo. A Rotary Club spokesman said they are looking at options and haven’t made a decision yet. Another consideration is the possibility large gatherings will be banned (as happened last week in some jurisdictions). If that happens in Slave Lake or Alberta generally, there goes the Rotary’s 777. And that would be just one of many.

There is more to come on this. We’ll attempt to keep up with important developments by posting them on our website – lakesideleader.com.

Silence at the arena. All minor hockey has been suspended.

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