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The Owl Athletic Complex at 110 Kriff Road is now being used as a drive up COVID-19 test site.
“The college, as part of the public university system has become a vaccination site,” Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell said. “This started in December. We are the site for Southwestern, NH. It has worked really well so far. We have been working well with the National Guard.”
The state of New Hampshire picked the complex to be the testing site for the region.
According to Keene State College Athletic Director Phil Racicot, Keene was a perfect location for the site for multiple reasons.
“Keene was identified as a location that would have the most impact,” Racicot explained.
Racicot explained that Keene State has been doing its part to fight the pandemic, especially since the college had a mobile hospital in the recreational gymnasium over the summer.
Racicot battled with the question of how it would be possible to continue to hold sporting events as well as support the testing site. “How can we do both things out there? How can this still be supported?” Racicot asked. “How can we support athletics, but also make sure that we keep in mind the bigger picture of ‘we need to get vaccines in arms?”
Although the testing site is located at the hub of athletics, Racicot and all of the athletics department have been working closely with the New Hampshire National Guard to ensure everyone is on the same page. The major problem about the vaccination site is not just the use of the fields but the accessibility of them as well.
“The major impact for us is not really the use of the fields, it’s probably more about parking.”
Racicot explained that when the testing is happening, it can be difficult to access the complex. However, Racicot hopes that a new plan will make it easier for students to access the fields.
“We’ve actually put into play this week a plan that creates some auxiliary parking out at the Kriff Road facility,” Racicot explained. “So we have actually created parking for our student athletes who do have to drive out to practice.”
The decision will overall make it easier for all student-athletes to access the sporting fields.
Although the parking was an inconvenience, Racicot says that he has to look past that because what’s important is the testing.
“You have to look at the big picture,” Racicot said, “what’s going on out there, that’s saving lives.”
As for the timeline of when the testing at the complex will be complete, according to Racicot, that could be as late as June of 2020.
“Possibly longer depending on the pandemic,” Racicot stated.
When the complex is being used, with permission from the National Guard, spectators will not be allowed on the complex.
“We’re not planning on having spectators at the home games [that] we do plan on having out there,” Racicot explained.
As for how the vaccine site is going over all, Treadwell said, “It’s a big commitment to the region and it’s working well.”
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, you can visit https://www.vaccines.nh.gov.
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