School teams from across the Lakeland may get bounced from a planned basketball tournament in Lac La Biche if continuing pandemic measures remain in place.
The Aurora Middle School's annual mini-B-ball tournament is scheduled to hit the Lac La Biche courts on February 5, bringing in Grade 6-9 teams from across the region — but provincial rules on school-based sporting events combined with an uptick in cases of the COVID-19 virus have 'paused' the event.
Lakeland school sports on hold
Schools across the province were issued the new provisions to start the new year, restricting school-based sporting events. Responding to updated pandemic measures from the province, schools in the Northern Lights Public Schools system have been told to temporarily "put on hold" games and tournaments. Practices for school teams are still permitted.
There is no word from the province on what the "temporary" timeline entails.
In a note to coaches from across northeastern Alberta last week, Aurora's sports director Wayne Mah said that while he isn't outright cancelling the day-long event, there's no guarantee it will take place.
"I will not cancel our Feb 5 basketball tournament yet because there is possibility that this mandate will be lifted by then," Mah told coaches.
Aurora isn't the only school in the region in the 'wait-and-see' mode. Schools across the province are facing similar challenges as provincial officials and local school authorities try to plan for any number of outcomes. Provincially, health officials are no longer tracking school transmissions of the respiratory virus, and no online information about outbreaks at schools is currently available. Details on a what provincial officials call "a different approach for school reporting" is expected to be unveiled soon.
Locally, schools are relying on parents and guardians to inform schools of positive COVID test results.
In the Lac La Biche area, as of Friday, January 14, there was reported to be one active case at the Aurora Middle School ane one active case at J.A. Williams High School.
In letters sent out to parents at both schools with the latest case numbers, local education officials say that although Alberta Health Services no longer informs NLPS when a case of COVID is connected to a school, they are hoping that parents will continue to share family information.
"We encourage all families and staff to share positive test results with their school so we can continue to keep our school communities informed," states the most recent letter.
The message also reminds parents and guardians that the COVID reports now being sent out "should not be considered as an accurate representation of the total number of cases connected to the school or a reflection of the number of student and staff absences the school is experiencing."
Across the region, active cases of the virus continue to climb, boosted say experts by the new Omicron variant.