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School board agrees to reopen Ma Murray gym for community use

School trustees have approved a plan to reopen the Ma Murray school gym to community clubs on a trial basis during the ongoing pandemic.
ma-murray-gym
The gym at Margaret 'Ma' Murray Community School in Fort St. John.

School trustees have approved a plan to reopen the Ma Murray school gym to community clubs on a trial basis during the ongoing pandemic.

The goal is to try to get up and running by early December, and a process for groups to apply to use the space will be finalized by next week, Superintendent Stephen Petrucci says.

“The Board passed the motion to start with Ma Murray,” Petrucci said. “They also asked staff to consider other situations where community partnerships exist, and/or where we have the capacity to support it.”

Community groups haven't been able to use school facilities since the spring, when the pandemic was declared.

The pilot will see the Ma Murray gym open to groups on Friday nights and weekends only.

The school’s administration would be responsible for vetting applications, and clubs will need to be well-organized and have their own COVID protocols in place.

Approved groups will also have to follow school district health and safety procedures, which have been aligned with the city's, Petrucci said. School staff will be on site to sanitize and supervise.

“This pilot and this process will not even come close to satisfying the needs of the community groups out there,” Petrucci said. “It’s as much to see if we can make it work properly.”

The city helped to fund the construction of the new Ma Murray gym, which can accommodate two community groups at a time separated by a curtain. The city and school district have a partnership for community use of the gym.

Similar partnerships exist at other schools, including Clearview, Hudson's Hope, and Wonowon, which will be looked at on a case-by-case basis depending on how successful the pilot goes at Ma Murray, and whether the school district has adequate resources and staffing to allow for more reopenings.

At Monday's trustee meeting, board Chair Helen Gilbert stressed it was important to start slowly, noting the rising number of COVID cases being reported in B.C.

“Going slowly shows that we as an organization are being cautious,” Gilbert said. “I think that cautious approach will be appreciated by our community.”

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.