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Ulysses “Coach” Howell Activity Center allowed to reopen with restrictions

The Oxford Park Commission is reopening their activity centers, but with restrictions who what is allowed and how many are allowed to access the facilities at a given time.

The Board of Aldermen voted to allow the Ulysses “Coach” Howell Activity Center and the Oxford Activity Center could reopen to allow for walkers and organized activities, but will remain closed for after school free play.

Up to 10 adults at a time can use the walking trail on the second floor of the Howell Activity Center while up to eight people at a time can use the pickle ball courts with a reservation.

Seth Gaines, OPC executive director, proposed allowing up to 20 people in but Board members felt that may be too high of a number inside the building at one time.

With Oxford School District starting on Aug. 24, the Board opted to keep the facilities closed to students for after school free play. Usually students from the Oxford Intermediate School would walk up to the activity centers and play for a couple hours until their parents can pick them up.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing other school districts across the state reporting positive cases in their first week back, the Board decided to err on the side of caution, at least through the first week of school.

“This closure is a continuation of preventative measures by the City of Oxford to help schools get started without the possibility of spreading sickness at our facility,” read a statement sent out by OPC to parents. “We ask that parents who have used our facilities in the past for these activities to make different arrangements for their children. We will inform the public on any changes regarding current policy.”

In the past, OPC has typically served around 100 students from OIS, according to OPC communications relations Director John Davis. With this year’s addition of the new Central Elementary School located next to OIS, the number of students who use the activity centers will potentially increase.