Since the initial lockdown was announced on March 13, 2020, and now projecting the potential re-opening of the rinks and the return to the ice during Stage 3 of the reopening plan in August 2021, our skaters will have missed over nine months of training time. During the periods when lockdowns have been lifted over the past 14 months, the Stratford Skating Club/Northern Star Skating Academy Inc. were able to safely operate over 350 on ice training hours that included more than 150 different athletes at a variety of levels from Learn-to-Skate, to Figure Skating to Power Skating. We were also extremely successful in hosting the only in-person skating competition to be held in the Province of Ontario this past skating season. In partnership with the City of Stratford and the Township of Embro, we followed, and in most cases exceeded all mandated screening, safety, risk mitigation, and tracking protocols for all training sessions and had ZERO positive cases associated with any of our programs.
We are deeply disappointed and extremely discouraged that our athletes continue to be categorized as participants in a ‘high risk’ activity particularly when the evidence has shown precisely the opposite. When so many factories and warehouses that are huge vectors of transmission in this Province have been able to remain open, it does not make sense to have our sector completely locked down at this time. As a result of both the Stratford SC/NSSA Inc. and the Ontario skating community’s commitment to the implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols, there have been no known transmissions at any skating club or school in the province of Ontario since the pandemic began.
The Stratford Skating Club and Northern Star Skating Academy Inc. issues a call to action for the Ontario Government to reconsider it’s current re-opening plan, and instead provide a swift and safe return to the ice to support the health and well being of our athletes, coaches and skating organizations across Ontario. Our children in this Province should be entitled to have safe programming open to them to aid in their mental and physical health.