Tuesday, May 26 marked the reopening of the Student Wellness Center with limitations and adaptations set to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“[Reopening] was kind of interesting, because the governor said May 18th was when gyms could reopen, so it pushed our timeline up a bit. When we decided on the 26th, it was only after deciding it was safe for students,” Angie Reay, Director of Recreational Sports and Wellness Center, said.
When students pour back into the gym, they can expect the setup to be very different than what they’re used to. The layout of equipment has been changed so that students will be able to better practice social distancing and stay at least six feet apart, but while face-masks are recommended, students are not required to wear them.
“We have every other piece of machine shut down, or every couple of machines in some cases. Some of our treadmills have at least three [shutdown machines] in between them. It’s all rearranged,” Reay said. “People can still check out equipment. When they return [the equipment] our staff will clean it.”
Another change coming to the wellness center is the implementation of a screening process to admit students into the gym. Students will have to answer a few questions and get their temperature checked for a fever before entering in order to ensure the safety of other students. Students will also have to wash or disinfect their hands before entering, and the only open entrance will be the southeastern entrance.
“One of the new [implications] is the screening process. You’ll have to answer a few questions such as ‘Have you had any signs or symptoms?’ and ‘Have you been around anyone who has?’ If you have a fever on the first reading, you can retest after five minutes. We understand it’s the summer so it will be really hot outside. We’ve got a holding area [while you wait], but you won’t be allowed in the gym if you fail the screening process,” Reay said.
The hours Monday through Friday have changed to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the weekend hours are now 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The pool, locker room and classes are all closed, and the maximum capacity is set at 25% of the original capacity in each individual area. There will also be hourly cleanings of each section. The situation at the wellness center will be continuously reevaluated and monitored, and changes will be made gradually.
“It will all kind of be phased in. We’re going to make sure we can manage the gym effectively, before reopening other parts of the Wellness Center,” Reay said. “We want to make sure when we do it, we do it the right way. The fourth [and final] phase is going back to normal. We don’t know if that will happen before the fall semester, but that’s the goal.”
While many businesses and shops have reduced their staff, the wellness center has actually added student positions. Much of the roles of these new positions include cleaning equipment, monitoring for social distancing, screening and operating the check-in desk. Staff are also required to maintain six feet between themselves and patrons. Staff will also have to self-screen, and they will be sent home as soon as they exhibit any signs of sickness.
If you were a spring 2020 enrolled student AND paid the Wellness Center fee, your membership is extended through the summer. @MSUTexas
— MSU Texas Rec. Sports/Wellness (@MSUTexasRec) May 25, 2020
“We’ve added student positions: three cleaners downstairs and two upstairs deep cleaning every hour on the hour,” Reay said.
Despite all the changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reay feels that the university has done a good job handling the situation and putting the students first. She also said that students only need to reach out to receive help.
“I sit on a lot of committees [and I can tell] MSU cares about their students, staff and alumni. I really like the different ways people have been able to get together. Just the support shown is incredible. You just need to pick up the phone, and anyone will help you with anything,” Reay said.
Students who paid for the Spring 2020 semester will not receive refunds, but they will receive extended membership at the wellness center through the summer. This change applies to alumni and seniors who graduated as well.
More information on changes made to the wellness center can be found here: https://msutexas.edu/student-life/wellness-center/wellness-center-re-opening-proposal—website-1.pdf