Some Alberta families are questioning the province’s recent move to suspend team sports in Alberta to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Cyndi Deck would normally be taking her daughter Hannah to a hockey game or practice on the weekend but everything changed when the province announced on Thursday that team sports in the Calgary area, Edmonton area, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and Red Deer would be prohibited for two weeks.
“I think it’s terrible,” Deck said on Saturday in Chestermere. “I think it won’t make a difference. I think it was an easy out. They should’ve made different decisions at Halloween, and they didn’t and now the numbers are really high. And so why they are taking it out on the kids, I don’t know.”
Hannah has written a letter to Premier Jason Kenney asking the province to reconsider the decision suspend team sports. The grade nine student plays on the Rocky Mountain Raiders hockey team in Okotoks.
“I feel like we should at least get to practice. We are in a 20-player cohort and we have been together since September and nothing bad has happened yet,” Hannah said.
Melissa From has two kids who also play hockey and have been impacted by the restrictions. From said the previous message from the province that the majority of the spread is coming from social gathering runs counter to the pause on sports.
“I felt all of the anger and confusion and frustration that comes from the mixed messaging,” From said.
She’s encouraging all parents to get in touch with their MLA’s to let them know how much sports mean to their children. From’s biggest concern is the mental health impact on children who can not participate in athletics as a result of the government’s decision.
“I want our voices to be heard and we want our children to be considered,” she said.
“We want their mental health to be a factor in these decisions. We have to balance the risk with the rewards and the benefits.
“I think that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. And in this case we are trying to solve a problem and just creating another problem.”
Brelyn Niemi runs Infinite Creations Dance Studio in Calgary. Her preschool classes are down to half capacity to ensure social distancing.
“We have proven that we can provide a safe outlet for our students,” Niemi said. “We are concerned that the circuit breaker isn’t going to see the decrease in cases that they are hoping for because it just isn’t where the transmissions are happening.”
A petition has been started to try to get the province to keep Alberta dance studios open.
Hockey parents like Deck and From insist the teams and organizations have gone above and beyond when it comes to limiting the spread of the virus, including doing their own contract tracing not attending their children’s games.
Hannah is trying to keep a positive attitude about the two week suspension of play, but she is worried she will not be back on the ice with her teammates until next season.
“I am concerned that we might not even get back on the ice. I was afraid that my last practice was my last practice,” Hannah said.
According to numbers released on Friday, 65 per cent of active COVID-19 cases in Alberta have an unknown origin.
A statement from Alberta Health said activities such as indoor group fitness, team sports have a high risk of spread due to exertion of participants, and often involve mixing and mingling before or after the activity.
“As community transmission and positivity rates increase, there is also an increased risk of introduction of the virus into these settings with subsequent large outbreaks.” said Alberta Health spokesperson Zoe Cooper in a statement on Saturday.