A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Capella Dance Academy in Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Capella Dance Academy in Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

COVID-19 ‘superspreader’ event at Chilliwack dance academy now up to 36 cases

Dance school owner says she did everything she was told to do by Fraser Health after positive test

Thirty-six people have now tested positive in connection with a Chilliwack dance studio, including the owner, two other instructors and 33 students.

The owner said that she is isolated from her family, trying to get over the illness, and she only ever did what health officials told her to do.

A week after Sarah Wood tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 26 and voluntarily shut down Capella Dance Academy, Fraser Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak.

On Nov. 2, the health authority said 26 people at the studio in the industrial area off Yale Road West had tested positive, a number that rose to 36 by Nov. 3.

People who contracted COVID-19, along with their close contacts, were told to self-isolate.

In an incident that Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin of Fraser Health agreed Tuesday was a “superspreader event”, there has been considerable confusion about how and when notifications were made.

“We are also working with the Chilliwack and Fraser-Cascade school districts to ensure they are informed of any potential exposure and are working together to ensure the safety of staff and students,” Fraser Health said in a press release.

Last week, letters were sent to families involved with the academy informing them of a COVID-19 case at the site.

RELATED: COVID-19 exposure event at Chilliwack’s Capella Dance Academy

RELATED: COVID-19 exposures in at least a dozen Chilliwack schools

Wood confirmed that she has the virus, and Fraser Health first said in a letter to affected parents that potential exposure might have occurred on Oct. 21 and 22. That was later updated on Nov. 2 to say those affected were spread over the dates of Oct. 20 to 27.

In one of two letters to parents, Wood urged those who weren’t feeling well to get tested. She also said she would be closing her studio even though Fraser Health never ordered it closed.

Parents with children at the studio expressed surprise because, they said, the academy had stricter COVID-19 protocols than public schools, including masks in common spaces, no adults in the dance studios, physical distancing, and staggered class times.

In its release announcing the outbreak, Fraser Health said it “will inspect the site and we are continuing to work with the dance academy to strengthen their COVID-19 mitigation strategies.”

In a lengthy media statement sent out Nov. 3, Wood responded to suggestions that information was not forthcoming about the outbreak, stating that she was “simply doing what I was told by the powers that be.”

She gave a timeline of the events since her positive test on Oct. 26, after which she emailed the entire studio roster on Oct. 27 and closed the doors “still at this time receiving zero direction from Fraser Health.”

It wasn’t until Oct. 29, when she said contact tracers told her when she would have been contagious, information she should share with families directly affected.

“Thinking that wasn’t enough action I chose to send it to the entire studio,” she said. “At this point, a great deal of dancers chose to be tested. I’m glad they did as some with no symptoms at all tested positive…. I was contacted by Fraser Health and they are quite overwhelmed with the growing numbers in B.C.”

Wood said she did as she was ordered to do by Fraser Health, including sending an email to dancers to isolate for 14 days from the last day in the studio as a precaution. The health authority confirmed the studio closure was voluntary.

“I do not have any control on how fast Fraser Health is working. I have co-operated 110 per cent since the beginning to get this ball rolling. I do not have any control over how fast the school district is contacted. Fraser Health is in charge of all contact tracing.”

She added that obviously the virus did not start in her studio, and she has been as open and transparent as possible.

“The facts are that it’s in our community and regardless of all of the sanitizing, social distancing, masks in common areas it still made its way through our doors. I am not careless with my dancers or their families.”

RELATED: List of Chilliwack youth groups closing due to COVID-19 growing quickly

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Terrace River Kings lost 9-3 to the Quesnel Kangaroos on Mar. 2, 2019 in the final CIHL playoffs. (Lindsay Chung Photo)
Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season

League open to playing exhibition games if possible

Questions around rail safety, firefighter safety, cleanup near the rail yards and tracks, whistle cessation, etc were raised during the RDBN meeting with CN. (File photo)
Regional district frustrated with CN response to grievances

‘A lot of our concerns are still not being heard,’: Houston mayor Shane Brienen

Ski hill scheduled to open Dec. 4

Hudson Bay Mountain Resort will open without its usual contingent of international workers

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Kitimat RCMP were requesting assistance locating 24-year-old Teah Wilken, who was last seen getting on a bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23). Kitimat RCMP Facebook photo.
UPDATE: missing woman found safe at residence

Wilken last seen getting on bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23)

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Most Read