VCSD to limit outside groups on school grounds

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

The Peter Young Center in Altamont is used as the practice facility of Saint Matthews Catholic Youth Organization Basketball program.

NEW SCOTLAND — The Voorheesville School Board at its October meeting decided to restrict outside groups from using district facilities during periods of substantial and high coronavirus transmission.

“The majority of school districts in the capital area, they are not allowing indoor use by outside organizations; they’re not allowing indoor use during high or substantial transmission rates,” Superintendent Frank Macri said on Oct. 4.

Macri said the school districts he spoke with are not allowing outside activities during periods of substantial and high transmission, but are during moderate to low periods. “And that would be my recommendation,” he said.

Since early August, the entire state of New York as well as Albany County has been labeled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a high rate of transmission, the worst rate. As of Monday, Oct. 11, only two states — California and Connecticut — have substantial rates, the second worst rate, while all 48 other states have high transmission.

The level of community transmission is based on the number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population and the number of tests in the last seven days that have a positive result. Places with high transmission have 100 or more cases per 100,000 population.

Macri recommended that Voorheesville not allow indoor use by any outside organization while additionally recommending he look into the district’s own policies to ensure Voorheesville is not exceeding the amount of people within the building at different times — for example, examining attendance at school concerts and plays. 

Last year, facilities were closed off to outside groups.

Approximately a half-dozen groups would be impacted by the decision.

The only non-school group allowed to use space at the Voorheesville schools would be the State Police, who use the pool for training. 

Jeff Hyman, a board member of the Saint Matthew’s Catholic Youth Organization Basketball program, said the district’s decision will “by far” have the “biggest impact” on the on CYO program, in which over 200 local kids participate. 

The CYO program uses the Voorheesville gym for its games and the Peter Young Center in Altamont for its practices.

Asked if the CYO would be able to reschedule so games would be played at the Peter Young Center, Hyman said, “We’re working our tails off to figure out if that’s possible.”

But he also said that, while the center has been used as a practice facility, “for purposes of holding competitions, it is substandard for what we’d like to and really need to deliver.”

Hyman also said the CYO is now frantically investigating capital improvements to the Peter Young Center and talking to their counterparts in Schenectady and Troy about court availability. 

The Peter Young Center, owned by the diocese, is named for a priest who once ran a thriving drug-rehabilitation program, which has since been discontinued there. Young died last year at the age of 90.

The center, formerly a seminary, is largely unused. The site, on the shoulder of the Helderberg, overlooking the village of Altamont, was once a lavish Victorian resort.

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