Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, Lakeland College President and CEO.
I am reaching out to our community to share an update on the COVID-19 outbreak that is affecting our Vermilion campus.
On April 5, Alberta Health Services (AHS) declared an outbreak at the Vermilion campus and we are working with them as they investigate it as per their usual process.
The investigation is in the early stages, however at this time AHS has shared there is evidence that these cases have spread as a result of isolated off-campus social gatherings, which are not in compliance with provincial public health guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
As of 10 a.m. on April 9, AHS informed us that there are 56 confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to the outbreak they are investigating, 45 of which are confirmed to be the B 1.1.7 (UK) variant. Of the total confirmed cases, 52 are students and four are employees.
We wish everyone a safe and speedy recovery. At this time, there are no Lloydminster campus students and employees affected by the outbreak.
We are grateful for the support of AHS as we continue to work collaboratively with them in this investigation. Contact tracing work is ongoing with close contacts receiving guidance on isolation requirements to help limit further spread. At this time, AHS has informed us that there are no additional health measures recommended for the greater community.
I want to assure you that we are taking this situation very seriously. Our team is actively working to ensure additional measures are in place on campus to prevent transmission.
Alberta health inspectors visited our Vermilion campus this week to review our protocols and procedures and found them to be more than sufficient for on-campus learning. To prevent the risk of transmission though, we moved classes for agricultural sciences and environmental sciences online earlier in April, and interior design technology after the Easter weekend.
We have increased cleaning and disinfecting in our residences. Common areas in residence and in other areas of campus have been closed. Our recreation facility, Equine Centre, cafeteria dining area and library have closed.
We are also working with AHS to provide on-site voluntary COVID-19 testing today (April 9) to all Vermilion campus students and staff who have been on campus since March 26. Both the rapid and standard COVID-19 tests will be completed.
We have increased monitoring and enforcement of our COVID-19 protocols. Adherence to the guidelines we put in place at the start of the academic year allowed more than 90 per cent of our students to engage in in-person learning activities prior to the outbreak.
We cannot afford to be complacent, we must all adhere to the guidelines in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
We are providing services and assistance to 26 students who are isolating on campus. We know this is a difficult time for them. Our residence staff are supporting them, meals are being provided to those in the traditional dorms, and arrangements for supplies and access to health services are being provided as needed.
My thanks to our residence, health services and facilities teams, as well the Students’ Association for helping them through these challenging circumstances.
Thank you to everyone who has and continues to act responsibly, and follows the provincial health measures and Lakeland COVID-19 guidelines.
We will continue to share updates as they become available at lakelandcollege.ca/covid19.
Please do your part to Look after Lakeland.