UPDATE – 36 People at Chilliwack’s Capella Dance Academy Test Positive for COVID-19 – Owner Releases Statement – Updates Her Own Medical Condition

Chilliwack – On Monday night, Fraser Health released a statement that they declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Capella Dance Academy located at Unit #3 & Unit #4- 7949 Venture Place in Chilliwack, after an individual at the dance academy tested positive for COVID-19.

To date, 36 individuals at the dance academy have tested positive for COVID-19. Case and contact management is ongoing. Those identified as cases and close contacts have been instructed to self-isolate.

The owner of the academy has gone on record stating that they have stricter protocol’s that schools. Already this week, over 12 Chilliwack Schools were listed on the app BC School Tracker as having positive cases. Fraser Health had also put out a notice of a case at Hope Secondary School.

Chilliwack Giants Minor Football shut down their season as a precaution while Chilliwack Hawks Lacrosse closed over the weekend to go over their protocol.

Capella Dance Academy voluntarily closed on October 28, 2020. Fraser Health will inspect the site and FHA are continuing to work with the dance academy to strengthen their COVID-19 mitigation strategies. FHA are also working with the Chilliwack and Fraser-Cascades school districts to ensure they are informed of any potential exposure and are working together to ensure the safety of staff and students.

The owner of the studio, Sarah Sturrus-Wood, sent out a media release which includes the timeline and actions taken by the studio:

November 3rd 2020

Please excuse the grammar as I am still in recovery mode from this pandemic myself and under stress due to the fallout from the past days events.I am Sarah Wood, the owner of Capella Dance Academy in Chilliwack. I am a proud business owner in the community for over 20 years.First off, I would like to offer my sincere best wishes to all my students, their families and anyone else affected by this terrible situation. And I would like to thank those of you who offered your kind words of support.Please understand this was NEVER a cover-up or a “secret” hiding of information. I was simply doing what I was told by the powers that be.This is all the information I have to share and the timeline of events that have occurred to this day.

On Friday October 23rd I woke up with what felt like a head cold. I was tested on Friday and have been isolated in my home since Friday morning.3 days past with no word from Fraser health. I called in and got my positive test on Monday Oct. 26th I was told by Fraser health to wait until I hear from someone for contact tracing and that they didn’t think it would be necessary to close the studio. My gut told me otherwise so I immediately decided to shut my business down contacted parents.

Tuesday, Oct. 27th I emailed the entire studio roster of my positive test and immediately closed the doors as a preventative measure. Still at this time receiving zero direction from Fraser health.

Thursday, Oct 29th I was finally contacted by Fraser health. There wasn’t much contact tracing, they simply told me when I would have been contagious and sent me a letter to send to my families directly affected on my contagious days. Thinking that wasn’t enough action I chose to send it to the entire studio.At this point a great deal of dancers chose to be tested. I’m glad they did as some with no symptoms at all had tested positive. I was contacted for one class list for a class with a positive dancer. They can not disclose the information to me as to who had tested positive. To the local media, this was me attempting to keep this some sort of secret and they published that narrative, causing great stress to my family and families involved.

Monday, November 2nd

I was contacted by Fraser health and they are quite overwhelmed with the growing numbers in BC. To be of any assistance I could and to speed up the contact process, I assembled and offered my complete file of class lists for contact tracing.Fraser Health then decide that I should send a blanket email to the studio and “only my studio” for dancers to isolate 14 days from the last day in the studio as extra precaution as they work through the contact tracing.This was now 10 days after I went to be tested and 6 days after I closed the doors. I emailed my entire studio the updated information per Fraser Health request.I also then give Fraser health every dancers phone number so they can start the process. I did not know the amount of cases until it came out on the news and of course my heart was broken. I do not have any control on how fast Fraser health is working. I have cooperated 110% 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.I have done my very best to be proactive with the business and everyone’s well being while fighting this virus myself in isolation away from my husband and kids.The facts are this virus did not START in my studio. It has affected 45 million people across the planet. I have been open and transparent which is more then many other businesses that have also already been through this.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. I take all of the precautions in my personal life.Our dancers are friends at school, dance and outside of dance. I do not know where I contracted this virus. I don’t leave town, I don’t see friends or attend any gatherings. This is a pandemic. Kids are testing positive with no symptoms. How many children have gone home or stayed home sick from school with a “Cold” and not been tested and come back to school 2 days later. It’s in the grocery stores, it’s in the large and small businesses. I am just the first to be transparent about it and it needs to change.I’m currently trying to heal, support my dancers and focus on my family. I ask that when your children or yourself think you just have a “cold” please get tested.

Due to the stress of the media and all of the slander that has ensued since the media releases has, to say the least, added stress on my family and slowed down my recovery process.

Chilliwack, we need to do better to support each other, to educate ourselves before pointing fingers and reach out to help those in need because it will dominate our community in more ways then one. No one is exempt from this virus, NO ONE!I have done my very best and anyone that knows me knows that. I have been a business in Chilliwack for 20 years and have served the community as best as humanly possible and will continue to do so. Please take better care of each other ❤️

Chilliwack City Councilor and FVRD Chair Jason Lum released a Facebook statement :

I’ve known Sarah Sturrus-Wood for many years, and I’ve always known her to be a caring, conscientious business owner. Let’s not jump to conclusions with this situation. I have shared my concerns with Fraser Health, and am awaiting their explanation of the delay in the timeline. Until we have all the facts, I suggest we focus on supporting each other, instead of tearing each other down.

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