Local COVID cases surpass previous highs, Morrin School moves some classes online

·2 min read

Active COVID-19 cases for the Town of Drumheller continue to climb, from five active cases on Monday, March 1, to 74 active cases as of Monday, March 15.

Drumheller is not the only area seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases; Starland County recently had a two-week period with zero new reported cases, however, a minor increase in cases has prompted some grades at Morrin School to move to online, at-home learning.

Prairie Land School Division Superintendent Cam McKeage told the Mail, “(Morrin School) moved to at-home learning for grades K-9 as that is where the majority of the quarantining students are from.”

He added students in grades 10, 11, and 12 are still attending in-person learning as these grades “have not been affected as much.” Superintendent McKeage also noted at-home learning for the affected grades would continue until Friday, March 19.

This is the second time Morrin School has had to move to at-home learning; all grades moved to at-home learning in January, only a week after students returned to in-person classes following the winter break.

The current number of active cases for the Town of Drumheller has surpassed the previous peak of 63 cases from November 2020. Drumheller currently has the second highest rate of active cases, with 822.4 cases per capita or 100,000 population, behind only the Municipal District of Opportunity No. 17.

On Wednesday, March 10, the Mail reported Canadian Red Cross members arrived at the Drumheller Institution on Monday, March 8 to assist with an ongoing outbreak.

Drumheller Institution has the highest number of positive cases among Alberta’s seven federally run institutions, with a total of 147 positive cases as of Monday, March 15; in comparison, the Edmonton Institution for Women had the next highest with a total of seven positive cases.

According to an Alberta Health Services (AHS) representative, local case numbers for the Town of Drumheller include those at the Drumheller Institution.

However, Director of Emergency and Protective Services Greg Peters stated these two numbers are separate during the Monday, March 15 Drumheller council meeting.

Further clarification was unavailable at the time of publication.

As of Monday, March 15, there are 74 active cases and 220 recovered cases of COVID-19 for the Town of Drumheller as of Monday, March 15; according to CSC there are 57 active and 90 recovered cases among inmates at the Drumheller Institution.

There are six active cases in Starland County, four in Kneehill County, and zero active cases in Wheatland County.

Editor's note: The Mail received confirmation from a Government of Alberta representative on Wednesday, March 17 which confirms, "Cases from Drumheller Institution are included in Drumheller data on the Alberta website." The Alberta website also includes outbreak information for various facilities, such as long-term care and supportive living, and are broken down by zone.

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail