COVID-19 UPDATE

hATh

Please visit https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx for the most up to date information on COVID-19.

2/1/2021

The fall and winter has been a long and challenging stretch. The mental strain and frustration that has been caused is significant, and the current status looks to continue for the months ahead. Although cases are in the decline, Alberta is still in a very high-risk category and the risk new COVID-19 variants pose is significate and unpredictable.

To show an abundance of caution SOA will be suspending in person programs for the remainder of the winter season.

Our hope is that we can start to return to in person programs this spring. Spring programs could start anywhere between April and June, depending on the affiliate and COVID-19 realities at that time. We will be reaching out to each of you to determine what programs you would like to offer and when. Although we hope to start to slowly return to in person programs, we acknowledge that it will potentially be the fall of 2021 before we start to return to “normal.”

Our approach throughout the pandemic was to be the organization that gets criticized because we were too conservative, not the one that opened too fast or did not pause fast enough if cases escalated. The current environment is extremely concerning, and we will take an abundance of caution around protecting the health of our athletes and volunteers.

We are going to continue to expand and create new ways to engage with you virtually and offline. Make sure you check out our PEAK page: https://www1.specialolympics.ab.ca/peak-program/ and sign up for our newsletter here: https://bit.ly/2KcXh6Y

We look forward to continuing to work with and support you as we get through these tough times together. Please continue to reach out to us with questions, suggestions and just to connect. Special Olympics will be back in Alberta and I cannot wait for the party that will be for all of us!

Johnny Byrne

CEO

1/11/2021

Due to recent developments tied to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our province, Special Olympics Alberta is suspending all sport training, practices and competition activities, other Special Olympics events involving our athletes through February 1, 2021, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated.

On December 8, 2020, new mandatory health measures were enacted provincewide and have since been extended due to the severity of the situation.

The decision to suspend programs further not only reflects the measures implemented by our provincial government, but also remains consistent with our promise to remain an organization who is conservative in our approach. The current environment remains extremely concerning and we will take an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of our members and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our communities.

We know this remains a challenging time for everyone, and to help stay connected, active, and engaged we are preparing for the relaunch of PEAK. More information on how you can get involved will be released later this week!

Another great source of information is our Healthy at Home newsletter, which you can subscribe to here: https://mailchi.mp/specialolympics.ab.ca/healthyathome

We appreciate your patience and understanding, and know that we look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces soon!

Please stay safe everyone.

Johnny Byrne

CEO

11/24/2020

Effective November 13, 2020, multiple health zones within the province enacted enhanced health measures. Since that time, COVID-19 numbers continue to rise within the province with increased instances of community spread and cases of unknown origin. That combined with the vulnerability of our Special Olympics athletes and their families, we have made the decision to take action to ensure our membership and their families remain safe and healthy.

Effective immediately, all in-person programs are suspended until January 11, 2021.

The decision to suspend programs was made because of the escalating number of cases in our province. This decision is not a reflection of the outstanding work and diligence of our programs who successfully returned to sport. I want to sincerely thank the leadership volunteers from these affiliates and community programs who followed protocols meticulously and ensured there was no COVID spread among our Special Olympics athletes and volunteers. We have to act now to do our part to ensure the safety of our members and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our communities.

Our approach throughout the pandemic was to be the organization that gets criticized because we were too conservative, not the one that opened too fast or didn’t pause fast enough if cases escalated. The current environment is extremely concerning and we will take an abundance of caution around protecting the health of our athletes and volunteers.

We acknowledge that social distancing is very difficult for many, especially our athletes who struggle with not being able to meet with their friends and the volunteers who they have a close bond with. In the lead up to the Holiday Season we are going to be launching several new virtual social initiatives to connect our members and have some much needed fun. We will also encourage athletes to sign up for the final weeks of PEAK and get ready for info on the Winter 2021 edition. Visit here for more info: https://www1.specialolympics.ab.ca/get-involved/peak-program/.

Another great source of information is the Healthy at Home newsletter which can be signed up for here: https://mailchi.mp/specialolympics.ab.ca/healthyathome

As dark as it seems now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It will take time and patience, but we will get through this together.

Please stay safe everyone.

Johnny Byrne

CEO

9/1/2020

Attention: Special Olympics Alberta Communities, Clubs, Volunteers, Athletes, Partners, Associates and Families 

As we mentioned in our last social media update: “Our Return to Play protocols have been approved and Special Olympics Alberta staff are currently working with each Affiliate and Community Program to determine what their plan will be for the fall.” 

While this announcement does not include a set return date, we are hopeful and excited for a successful return to play in many of our communities. We want to reiterate that each community’s return to sports will differ depending on their facilities, sports, and available volunteers.  

We will still continue to provide virtual opportunities for athletes through our Healthy at Home newsletter and in collaboration with Chapters across the country. 

Return to play is going to be an ongoing process, so we want to thank you for your patience as we continue to be conservative in our approach. Our priority is, and will always be, the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers, and coaches.

If you have any questions or would like to speak with a staff member please email info@specialolympics.ab.ca or call 1-800-444-2883 and leave a message. 

6/29/2020

Attention: Special Olympics Alberta Communities, Clubs, Volunteers, Athletes, Partners, Associates and Families

In consultation with local and provincial health authorities and Special Olympics programs across Canada, Special Olympics Alberta is directing that all in person local sport programs, competitions, and any related activities remain suspended until August 31, 2020.

We will continue to monitor and evaluate the status of this pandemic and advise you of next steps on or before August 31st. While the province begins to open up, the obligation for safety, security, protocols and liability lies with the business or organization. Sport in general and Special Olympics specifically, has a duty of care beyond the normal scope of most organizations.

Special Olympics Alberta is working with Special Olympics Canada and all Chapters on finding the best way to navigate this challenging situation. Our approach when planning our return to play is that we are going to be the organization that gets criticized because we were too conservative in our opening, not the one that opened too fast. There is still COVID in our communities and we will take an abundance of caution around protecting the health of our athletes and volunteers.

Protecting the health and safety of everyone involved is the primary objective, while getting programs operational in some form. Stay informed by going to our website www.specialolympics.ca/alberta/covid-19 for the latest updates.

Should you have any questions or would like to speak with a staff person about the pandemic please email info@specialolympics.ab.ca or call 1-800-444-2883 and leave a message and we will follow up.

Stay safe everyone!

4/15/2020

Due to recent developments tied to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Special Olympics Alberta is suspending all sport training, practices and competition activities, other Special Olympics events involving our athletes through June 30, 2020, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated.

Special Olympics Alberta is collaborating with chapters from across the country to bring you virtual programming through SO Healthy at Home. Healthy at Home is a place where athletes, coaches, families, and supporters can visit for ongoing resources, events and connection opportunities.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter that will include updates, resources, courses, connection opportunities, and much more.

https://mailchi.mp/specialolympics.ab.ca/healthyathome

3/16/2020

To ensure that we are supporting the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health and wellness of our staff, all Special Olympics Alberta employees will be working from home for the foreseeable future.

Our staff can still be reached by phone or e-mail and we look forward to staying connected with you. Please reach out with any questions that you may have.

3/13/2020

Due to recent developments tied to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Special Olympics Alberta is suspending all sport training, practices and competition activities, other Special Olympics events involving our athletes through April 14, 2020, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated.

This decision was made carefully based on new developments and advice from Special Olympics International and information from Alberta Health.

Cancelling our events is disappointing and not a decision made lightly; however, we know that our love of sport does not compare to the importance of protecting the health of our athletes and the entire Special Olympics Alberta community.

Please review specialolympics.ca/alberta/covid-19 for any updates regarding this situation. In addition, any updates will be communicated to participants via email, our website and social media channels (FacebookTwitter and Instagram).

Please continue to practice smart and careful prevention strategies. Wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, avoid high-fives, avoid handshakes, and avoid contact with your face.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this situation and strive to make the best possible decisions for everyone in our community.

Sincerely,

John Byrne

CEO

jbyrne@specialolympics.ab.ca