By CHARLES OWENS

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — The Wade Center is welcoming students back, but with precautions in place.

A group of 15 students, along with their parents, were at the Wade Center Thursday evening, and summer events are planned for the next five Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at the old school, Betty Brainerd, director of the Wade Center, said.

“I just think it is important for the community to know that the Wade Center is still here,” Brainerd said.

Calling it a soft opening, the first group of students arrived at the Wade Center Thursday evening where they engaged in musical activities, book readings and other events, including CPR classes for their parents. All of the activities were held outdoors, as a state inspection of the old school must still be completed before officials can use the indoor facilities.

Masks were provided to the parents and children, but not required, and social distancing was enforced along with temperature checks, hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer.

“This is just an introduction to let the parents know what we will be doing,” Brainerd said. “At this point, we can’t open the building yet.”

Once a health department inspection of the school is finished, Brainerd hopes to see a regular resumption of activities for students at the Wade Center this fall, including art classes, cooking, music and other activities.

The Wade Center, just like most other programs across the region, had to be closed in March with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brainerd said some in the region incorrectly assumed it wouldn’t be reopening. But that isn’t the case.

Brainerd said students — in groups of 15 at a time — will be hosted at the Wade Center each Thursday in July, and the first Thursday in August, from 6 to 8 p.m. as part of the welcoming back program. 

“You will have the whole staff, and the board members, here meeting the parents and letting them know what we will be doing this fall,” she said of the Thursday gatherings.

The Wade Center is a non-profit entity operated solely through donations and grants.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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