Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The mayor of a town in northern Alberta says Premier Jason Kenney shouldn’t have commented about an outbreak of COVID-19 among school students and staff if he didn’t know the circumstances.

Mr. Kenney said during two news conferences last week that the outbreak in Athabasca, Alta., was one of the worst in the entire province and had stemmed from a birthday party.

“Apparently the virus had a 100 per cent attack rate at that birthday party. All of the kids who came to that birthday party got sick,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

An official with Alberta Health subsequently said there was no data to suggest there had been an outbreak from a children’s party in the community.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Kenney said he misspoke about the location of the party and was using it as an example of how easily COVID-19 can spread.

Mayor Colleen Powell says the publicity the town of 13,000 people has received since the premier’s comments is not the kind it wants.

“Why are you saying these things when you don’t know?” Ms. Powell asked in a phone interview.

“I had a couple of people get in touch with me [asking] who held the party. News spreads like wildfire.”

Just over 100 people, including students and a dozen staff, from three different schools in Athabasca tested positive for COVID-19 and its variants.

But students and teachers are feeling confident about returning to classrooms on Monday after a week of spring break and two weeks of self-isolating, said the superintendent for Aspen View Public Schools.

Story continues below advertisement

“We feel like we’ve mitigated the risk, and we feel like it’s time to go back and give it a shot,” said Neil O’Shea.

“Some of the cases within the town and the county have gone down. We’ve deep-cleaned all of our schools. We’ve adjusted a little bit of our protocols around masking. Our phys-ed classes are going to be held outside.”

The area had 155 active cases on Friday.

Mr. O’Shea said he first heard about an outbreak near the end of March at Edwin Parr Composite School, where about 700 students in Grades 7 to 12 are enrolled. Students from two more schools started showing symptoms and the school board shut them all down, he said.

“We went all the way from kindergarten to Grade 12 online for the three weeks, just because of the interconnectedness of our communities and families and transportation and workplaces.”

Ms. Powell said that earlier in the pandemic, she kind of agreed with some who said rural towns shouldn’t face the same public health restrictions because they are smaller. But with the rapid rise in cases, she doesn’t feel that way any more.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s been a lesson.”

Anne Karczmarczyk is a school board trustee and the mother of two girls who tested positive in the Edwin Parr Composite outbreak.

She said she has heard nothing about a birthday party and the Premier’s comments came as a surprise to her.

“My own daughters contracted the variant and they got it from school. I know for a fact that all of the cases were at our school and not all from a birthday party,” Ms. Karczmarczyk said.

“It sets an uneasy feeling when you hear that, especially as a parent who had children with COVID … I just know my kids did not receive it from a birthday party.”

Ms. Karczmarczyk said the two other schools that were shut down were a primary school and a middle school.

Story continues below advertisement

“There were probably contacts from busing, or contacts from siblings or family members … that sort of thing. That would basically [be] how it travels everywhere else.”

She said the community has been working hard to bring down cases.

“It’s an eye-opener, hopefully, for people to be more vigilant,” Ms. Karczmarczyk said.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies