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Amid Shifting Public Health Protocol, Unalaska PCR Prepares For Upcoming Community Programming

Maggie Nelson/KUCB

In the past couple of weeks, the City of Unalaska has oscillated between its high and medium coronavirus risk levels, shifting in and out of "hunker down" orders.

Amid those shifts, city facilities, like the Community Center and Aquatics Center, have had to alter hours of operation as well as capacity limits. And while those shifts make planning for upcoming events difficult, the Unalaska Department of Parks, Culture, and Recreation staff are still preparing for upcoming programs and events.

As it remains unclear as to whether or not the island will be ordered to "hunker down" again in the coming months, let alone the coming days, PCR Recreation Manager Albert Burnham says that planning for events has proven to be especially difficult.

But as far as the rest of January and February go, those PCR programs will almost certainly all be virtual, according to Burnham.

"Anything beyond February, I have no ability to say that we're going to be out of any kind of risk threshold, so we're planning to maybe be able to start offering some [in-person] programming again around that time," said Burnham. "But at the same time, knowing that if we can't, we're going to seek to do things virtually or like we did with the basketball program in the fall, and at least provide something so that those kids don't miss out on a whole year of their development in that sport." 

In the fall, Unalaska kids participated in a season-long basketball skills competition, in which they were able to continue practicing and developing skills, without the close interaction of a game setting.  

PCR Special Events Coordinator Nichel Kernin echoed Burnham's concern about the uncertainty, but she said preparing for all sorts of situations is in the nature of event planning.

"You're kind of coming up with every possible scenario, almost overplanning," said Kernin. "So you're putting out fires before they can happen, essentially. So with my planning, I consider what I want it to look like in a normal scenario and then what I want it to look like if it needs to go virtual." 

Despite the unpredictability, the PCR is preparing for several future programs and events. Kernin says she is planning a special socially-distanced Valentine's Day event in place of the Father Daughter Dance that would normally take place around the beginning of March and would be an in-person, indoor event. She is also working on an Easter event and the Missoula Children's Theatre program.

According to Burnham, the PCR is planning to host a virtual event next week in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For more information on upcoming programming, visit the PCR's Facebook page or call 581-1297.

Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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