After closing in March 2020 due to the university’s closure, the student wellness and recreation center reopened to the public on August 17, but had limits in place to keep members physically away from each other and safe. The Rec leadership team also continues to closely monitor the pandemic situation to be able to adapt as needed.
“Our top priority is keeping everyone safe,” said James Kraus, the centre’s marketing coordinator. “We had to make a lot of changes, but luckily those changes allowed us to keep our doors open and give students a sense of normalcy during this strange time.”
Some of the major changes include the spacing of equipment, requiring people using the space to wear face masks at all times, installing plexiglass screens on desks, and constantly wiping down areas such as bedrooms. handrails, door handles and pieces of equipment. The facility has continued to operate under these conditions since it reopened, only closing for the holidays, from December 19 to January 4.
“We distributed all the equipment to allow proper physical distance between the limbs and ensure that six-foot distance,” Kraus said. “Fortunately, we were able to do this by moving the equipment and distributing much of it evenly in the multipurpose room.”
Other changes include barcode scanners at the entrance to allow members to scan without contact, marks on the floor in walkways and stairs to keep one-way traffic and showers and sauna closed. .
Kraus said about half of the “normal users” they see come to use the center. Basketball courts are now limited to only three players at a time, the hot tub can accommodate two people at a time, and the lap pool is limited to one person per lane. On February 22, facilities such as racquetball and volleyball courts reopened.
By following the proper protocols and making the necessary changes, Kraus said the center was able to provide the same experience for students while making them feel safe.
“I feel completely safe when I’m at Rec,” said Talia Diaz, a major junior in speech-language pathology and audiology. “Before COVID, I always came to Rec to train and I’m happy that I can continue to do so. It’s a part of my day that I always look forward to. ”
Diaz said she visits the center three to four times a week.
One of the centre’s main goals remains staff training, Kraus said. To ensure all employees are up to date with COVID-19 protocols, staff took virtual training which was followed by small group training.
Staff are also frequently reminded of the cleaning and disinfection needs and the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask at all times.
How the center will operate in the future remains an ongoing conversation, Kraus said, because as the pandemic continues, it will continue to make changes.
“We have plans for the future, but nothing is set in stone. Obviously, anything can change at any time, so we just want to be prepared. We have different ranges in place so that we can adjust as needed, ”Kraus said. “Our number one priority is to make sure everyone is safe, while providing the experience that students come to recess for.”
Kenzie Johnston covers health and fitness. Contact her at [email protected]