Preston High’s proposed outdoor graduation, the Kingwood Pool and Kingwood Parks and Recreation’s summer camp are all being changed by COVID-19.
There’s even a question whether some of the events can be pulled off at all.
“As of right now, the health department has not approved our June 18 graduation for outside. If that were happening today, it would not be approved, but obviously they have to wait and see as it gets closer,” Preston School Superintendent Steve Wotring told the board of education Tuesday.
Assistant Superintendent Brad Martin devised a seating arrangement to keep everyone at the event at Knight Stadium socially distanced, Wotring said.
“It’s an excellent plan that we have. The bottom line is it’s 900 people in the stadium, and they’re just not willing to approve that at this point,” Wotring said.
This week, graduates participated in individual ceremonies in the PHS gym. But seniors responding to a survey expressed a desire for a traditional ceremony with the class.
For years Kingwood residents fought to get the pool reopened. After two seasons, restrictions put on public pools by Gov. Jim Justice caused Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Stiles to ask Kingwood Council whether to proceed with opening this year.
“There’s lots and lots of obstacles in the way,” Stiles said. He asked council’s opinion before buying $1,000 of pool chemicals.
It will take nine people to operate the pool under the restrictions, and a limited number of people can be inside. Some showers/locker rooms must be closed for social distancing. Distancing must be policed in the water by a worker other than the lifeguard.
If microwave-ready packaged food is sold to customers, each time one uses the microwave, it will have to be wiped down. Each time the diving board or steps in the pool are used, the ladders must be wiped down. People’s temperatures must be taken as they enter. Those are only some of the rules.
Pool-goers can be disrespectful, Stiles said. And it’s a challenge finding life guards because the Red Cross isn’t certifying them, he said.
Recorder Bill Robertson said “I think we make it very clear, if we do open, that it’s essential to live by these guidelines, because if we get a lot of fussing and grumbling, we close it down.”
“I think we’ve got to give it a shot,” Mayor Jean Guillot said. “At least go forward, until we can’t go.”
“We owe the people of the town to give it a shot,” Councilman Dick Shaffer said. It’s a $1,000 gamble, Councilman Mike Lipscomb said, let’s take it. Councilwoman Karen Kurilko agreed.
There will be no swimming lessons, Stiles said, and he expects to close on Sundays and Mondays.
Kingwood Parks and Recreation’s summer camp usually draws 85 sign-ups and accepts 50-60 children. The health department has limited that to 25 this year, Stiles said. And parents will have to send lunches, because the schools will not be serving daily lunches.
Council agreed with Stiles the camp should be held, with the restrictions set by the state.