Amid pandemic, the Rec operates with some restrictions

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The Recreational Complex is taking extra precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the space. These precautions include screenings, face coverings and limited capacity in each zone. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

For much of the last few months, the Peters Recreation Complex, like many other campus service providers, was closed. Now, it’s back open for students to use, but it’s not quite like it was pre-COVID, Briana Heinen, facilities coordinator for Recreational Services, said.

For starters, every person who uses the facility is required to wear a mask that fits over the mouth and nose at all times. Entrants are also subject to temperature checks and general COVID-19 screening questions. Additionally, people will swipe their own IDs as they walk into the facility to keep the process contactless.

Certain spaces, like group fitness and locker rooms, remain closed, but a lot is still available, Heinen said. Sports courts and personal training are also unavailable during the current phase.

Other areas, like the cardio deck, some weight rooms and the walking/running track are open. Stretching areas and the bouldering part of the wall have opened as well.

“We space out all of our equipment. All of our equipment should be six feet apart and in the areas where we couldn’t obtain six feet, we just took some pieces offline,” Heinen said.

Cleaning procedures have also been ramped up.

(Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)
In addition to converting some spaces to other types of workout zones to accommodate capacity changes and social distancing requirements, staff will also be carrying out more frequent cleaning procedures. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Zone and overall building capacities are limited as well, Heinen said, in accordance with guidance from the university.

Katie Passilla, second year student in veterinary medicine, is one of the 3,200 individual students who use the Rec almost daily. So far, most of the spaces and equipment she’s wanted to use have been available to her.

“Since a lot of stuff has been moved around or blocked off sometimes all of the machines are taken and I have to wait longer than I normally would,” Passilla said via email.

However, some spaces that she’d hoped would be open aren’t yet, like some rooms on the second level of the building.

“I asked and they said it had something to do with the air filters,” Passilla said.

Some areas that were supposed to open, but haven’t yet, Heinen said, could be reopened by Labor Day weekend.

Heinen said the plan is to begin offering group fitness and intramural activities in some capacity by that deadline as well. Right now, the staff is looking at in-person and virtual options.

Going to the Rec is essential for Passilla’s mental health. She said she was glad the space reopened this semester for students to use, even if it is limited.

Some spaces in the Rec have been converted into other types of spaces to encourage social distancing. For example, the basketball court in the Rec now has stretching zones and some general equipment. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)
Some spaces in the Rec have been converted into other types of spaces to encourage social distancing. For example, the basketball court in the Rec now has stretching zones and some general equipment. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

“I try to be as safe as possible — not going during peak hours, always wearing my mask, cleaning machines and equipment before and after I use it,” she said. “Overall, I am happy with how they have gone about reopening it. I don’t feel unsafe while I’m there.”

Passilla said she’s happy to see that, for the most part, people are complying with the rules. She also doesn’t mind wearing a mask in the Rec or working out with one either.

For a full list of what is open and what isn’t at the Rec, visit their webpage.

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My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.