by KATE EVANS
The Morgan County School Board voted at their Monday, November 2 meeting to allow youth sports organizations use of school facilities at the discretion of building administrators when the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) School Alert System map metrics colors are green, yellow and gold.
The board decided to put a policy in place that would close school facilities for use by other organizations if Morgan County is designated as orange or red COVID-19 status in the weekly School Alert Map.
School board president Aaron Close said that he and School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle are beginning to get requests from youth sports organizations to use the Berkeley Springs High School, Warm Springs Middle School and Warm Springs Intermediate School gymnasiums. Organization requests included volleyball, wrestling and Biddy Buddy Basketball.
Close proposed that if schools are closed for education during red and orange status weeks that they should be closed to other groups as well. There is no local direction in place regarding facility use during red and orange status weeks. Close felt that the board should give staff direction on this.
He said he’s has conferred with principals and administrators and said there is no reason to doubt their safety oversight. Close wanted to see discretionary use of facilities on a trial basis for youth sports that have no other home.
Board member John Rowland felt they should continue relying on the judgment of school administrators and the Superintendent
Close said that Biddy Buddy would be limiting their whole schedule to Saturday and Sunday use of the gymnasiums. Everyone is masked except for players.
Board member Laura Smith asked if they allow Biddy Buddy Basketball, would it be the same rules as football with only parents allowed.
Morgan County Parks and Recreation Director Dawn Beal said it would only be parents and grandparents coming for Biddy Buddy. They’ll clean everything after everyone leaves and get ready for the next round of games. Beal promised that Biddy Buddy would follow all the safety and cleaning protocols.
School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said the youth organizations would have to follow all of the school metrics or it wasn’t a go. If the county was in gold status, it would have to be parents only at athletics events to be consistent with the state’s protocols.
Smith said she had no problems with the school-related programs using the facilities but expressed concern about other organizations and their facilities use. She asked about the church that was coming in on Sundays. Close said he didn’t believe the church had started yet.
Beal suggested that they attach a copy of the Health Department COVID-19 safety and cleaning protocols to the facility request forms for organizations. Close wanted to see signed copies of the health and safety protocols and guidelines with the organizations also receiving a signed copy.