Saint Mary’s Recreation Center continues to be open providing students with much desired physical activity. Rec Center Staff develop new sanitation standards to keep fellow students safe from infection.
By Olivia Virgen
With the closing of businesses, including gyms, throughout Contra Costa County, Saint Mary’s needed to take the specific precautions put in place by the county. In late September, the county decided it was safe enough to open restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and places of worship with restrictions and limited capacity. Shortly after, Saint Mary’s decided to open the pool for lap swimming only, before reopening the Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center’s indoor facilities. Swimmers were to schedule a time slot, using the Campus Recreation app on their phone, to ensure the pool remained at it’s limited capacity.
A student, Will Hansen, explained that there is only one student allowed in each lane and a lifeguard is always present. Hansen expressed his excitement for his access to use the pool and that he uses it as a way to destress. The center’s indoor machines and equipment also needed to take on a new look this year to maintain the safety of students and staff.
Like Hansen, first year student Hayden Bradley, enjoys going to the gym with friends. While Bradley likes to use the pool from time to time, he also enjoys using weights and various machines inside the center. He discussed his routine of using weights and some of the machines to continue to stay healthy and fit. After touching any kind of equipment members must sanitize what they have used. Multiple sanitizing stations can be found throughout the gym, with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
In addition, Recreation Center staff must sanitize machines and equipment every hour. Hannah Holt explained her roles as a Recreation Service Assistant, saying “I work at the front desk and I answer phone calls, I help with member check-in, and for Covid-19 I make sure everyone has their mask on and clean periodically to make sure everyone stays safe”.
Holt explains the new contact free way to check-in, which includes members presenting their green check mark on the LiveSafe app and scanning their member barcode from the Campus Rec app. Once members’ barcodes are scanned they are immediately logged into the system for covid tracing. Members are then free to workout in selective areas of the gym. This form of no contact check-in limits the interactions between students and staff. Check-in desks are boarded with glass, separating gym goers from the staff.
Along with the sanitizing stations that are located throughout the gym that students must use after touching any machines or weights, Holt explains that each worker is assigned a particular zone that they must wipe down throughout their shift. Maintenance staff will also use a machine to spray free weights to further disinfect. Other equipment, such as basketballs and badminton rackets and birdies, must be checked out at the front desk. The basketball court is currently open to single players to limit the contact between students. Everything is again sanitized once returned to the front desk.
The center’s hours have also been altered this year due to COVID-19 and the small number of students living on campus; open from 9:00am to 9:00pm Monday through Thursday and until 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. Other changes include the unavailability of the locker rooms and showers as well as the temporary closure of the cafe located inside. Fitness classes such as spin biking and yoga are held on the deck outside rather than the workout rooms. The gym is also where some Saint Mary’s intramural sports would be held, such as basketball, indoor soccer, and dodgeball, but instead have been cancelled until further notice due to Covid-19. Recreation Service Assistant, Erin Clark, explains these cancellations and closures.
She says, “the school tells us what we can and can’t do...asking if we can do certain things, open up on weekends, open up to people off campus but they [St. Mary’s College] have yet to give us the ‘okay’”.
Clark explains that this year is very different from her previous years working at the Rec Center. The adjustments that have been made, have allowed on campus students to maintain their health and fitness while practicing social distancing. When asked to make a statement on the decision to reopen the Rec Center to on campus students with the necessary precautions in place, the Department of Athletics and Recreation has yet to respond at this time.