High school stadiums and their running tracks often double as popular exercise venues for area school communities, and some are slowly re-opening for public use.
But while some Butler and Warren county high school tracks have opened, others are holding off and waiting for directives from local and state health officials about how to proceed during continued concerns about the coronavirus.
And even those prep stadiums that have opened their running tracks for local walkers and joggers – the playing fields are not open for any group activities – schools have done so while posting notices that strict social-distancing should be maintained.
For many school communities, re-opening the stadium tracks is a big step back to normalcy, said school officials.
“The Kings Stadium is sure a point of pride for the district and community,” said Dawn Gould, spokeswoman for southern Warren County’s Kings Schools, who said the stadium track re-opened Monday.
“We have been fielding emails from residents inquiring when we will be opening for community use. I think quite a few people enjoy using the track for a safe place to walk and run,” said Gould.
Jake Richards, athletic director of Butler County’s Ross Schools, said school track is a beloved feature of the rural school system.
“As one of our residents who has run on the track three days a week for the last 25 years put it, ‘it’s just so good to be home,’” said Richards, whose district opened its sports stadium last week.
“The campus is a central hub of activity in the Ross community and we have many community members who have visited the campus on a regular basis for years and years to walk, run, or participate in a variety of activities,” he said.
“The recent (coronavirus) closure presented a huge disruption to the lives of so many folks for so many reasons, and not being able to utilize our campus facilities compounded the problem,” said Richards.
Madison Schools have also opened its stadium track to the public as have Mason Schools and Middletown Schools – at their new high school campus track, which opened last year.
Elizabeth Beadle, spokeswoman for Middletown Schools, said “the track is open to the public, but we ask for there to be no large gatherings on the turf. Also, when the Middletown teams are practicing the facility is closed to the public.”
Hamilton Schools officials are waiting for more guidance from officials on how and when to open its stadium track on the high school campus.
“The district is still working to finalize the details to allow our facilities to be used safely in the future as we continue to collaborate with different organizations and agencies,” said Hamilton Schools Spokeswoman Joni Copas.
Later this month Talawanda Schools’ stadium will only open to strictly supervised school sports team workouts so far, said District Spokeswoman Holli Morrish.
“Recently we were asked about the opening up the track for community walkers, and although we are interested in doing that in the future, we are waiting for more information,” from state and local health officials,” said Morrish.
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