COVID-19 Answers on Furloughs, Social Distancing and More

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Did you tune into Campus Rec Magazine’s COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable: What’s Next?

If so, you may not have had your questions answered. Fortunately, the roundtable’s panel has answered them here.

Panel:

Kirk Fallon, the director of the Student Recreation Center at Red Rocks Community College
Laura Hall, the senior director of Campus Recreation at Penn State
Christopher Hoppe, the associate director of Campus Recreation and Outdoor Programs at Eastern Washington University
Emily McElwain, the director of Student Recreation at Colorado State University Pueblo

Question 1: Kirk, you mentioned you use Fusion to rent out lockers. How do you rent lockers out for day use?

Kirk Fallon: We actually use the Fusion equipment rental function to rent out combo-locks to our students to use for day lockers. All-day use lockers are clearly labeled in the locker rooms. So, the student comes to our desk, rents a lock and chooses the locker. We do not actually rent out the lockers themselves. Feel free to reach out if you want any further detail.

Question 2: Do you see towels and spray bottles being a thing of the past for exercise equipment cleaning? Could disposable wipes be the way to go?

KF: I would defer to the CDC with this question. However, I certainly don’t anticipate towels will be wiped out completely — pun intended.

Laura Hall: I am not quite ready to make the jump to disposable wipes. I think we’ll need to see more CDC, etc. guidance before making any determination at Penn State.

Chris Hoppe: I would defer to the CDC and your local health officials for guidance on this.

Emily McElwain: I concur with my colleagues.

Question 3: For those who have already had furloughs or have been given specific information regarding forthcoming furloughs, how do the campus rec furloughs compare to those across your campus?

KF: I am very lucky to work at an institution where we have been assured furloughs would not be happening any time soon. I think this is a very interesting question though and would love to see the feedback from other institutions.

LH: We are tracking right along with the rest of campus.

CH: At Eastern Washington University, we’ve been informed that furloughs will not be an option due to union contract negotiations.

EM: At this time, our institution and system has not discussed furloughs. However, most open positions and anything that becomes vacated in the immediate future will not be refilled unless critically necessary. Those positions will be approved by our campus leadership team.

Question 4: Emily, what platform have you been using for the remote Ironman event?

EM: We just use Fusion for registration and then have a google document sent to participants for updating throughout the event. If you would like more info, feel free to email me at emily.mcelwain@csupueblo.edu.

Question 5: What metric are you using to determine capacity — 150, 200, etc. square feet per person? And what technology are you using to manage it?

KF: To be determined.

LH: Haven’t made this determination yet.

CH: No decision has been made yet.

EM: No decisions have been made yet. We have heard one of our fitness equipment partners share an initial thought of 100-square-feet per person. This will most likely vary state by state.

Question 6: Our pool hosts a lot of swim meets. Has anyone made a determination for their pool on how they might structure events?

CH: Currently we do not have finalized policies and procedures for group gatherings like swim meets or other local competitions. This will likely be developed in the coming days/weeks. On Friday, May 1, our governor released updated guidelines that inform statewide reopening protocols in a phased approach. These include group gatherings of up to 5 people, up to 50 people and 50-plus over a graduated timeline. The framing from our state is to view reopening more as turning a dial rather than flipping a switch. I would review your state’s specific protocols for guidance on group events.

Question 7: What about personal training in person with distancing and/or fitness assessments where you have to touch the client?

CH: We are waiting to hear from respective professional associations and accrediting bodies on this. I recommend checking with the certifying or accrediting body your instructors are trained through, so they remain in compliance with the scope of their training. For Wilderness First Responder courses as an example, sessions requiring in-person contact are still not permitted. In planning meetings, it seems that enhanced PPE — gloves, facemask, face shield, etc. — will likely be the new standard for the foreseeable future when in-person contact is authorized. Ultimately, minimizing personal contact should be encouraged where possible.

Question 8: Have any of you had conversations about how employees will respond to any sort of emergency that would require a staff member to physically touch a patron? How will this be handled/managed?

KF: I think Chris answered this perfectly. Our staff has always been equipped with fanny packs stocked with gloves, CPR masks and other PPE. Now I would assume we will be adding additional forms of facemasks to our inventory as well.

LH: We are working on this presently but awaiting more guidance from health professionals.

CH: This will depend on the nature of the emergency and what types of PPE are accessible during the emergency. This is a good time to review your team’s first aid kits to see what supplies are stocked to protect your team and consider bolstering those kits. I also recommend consulting with your institution’s legal counsel or risk manager on the level of risk your institution is willing to accept in these cases. If it is determined your institution wants to avoid putting staff in these situations, you may need to re-evaluate the activity itself.

EM: Also, consider adding surgical gowns and face shields for med kits. That is what first responders here in Colorado have been advising.

Question 9: Is there a discussion happening on your campus for using gyms and large space facilities as large classrooms to allow for more students under social distancing measures? 

KF: Not yet, but that is an interesting concept.

LH: Not at Penn State.

CH: Not yet at Eastern Washington University.

EM: Only in the context of group fitness classes; nothing yet beyond that internal conversation.

Question 10: What planning is taking place on your campuses around student housing for the fall?

LH: Determination will occur in mid-June

CH: For the fall, our institution has removed a previously established live-on requirement for incoming freshmen. Policies and procedures are being developed and reviewed for those students who still choose to live on campus in the fall. For this current spring quarter, most students have moved off campus. We have consolidated the residents from eight halls down to two, with each living in their own room. They are paying the normal rate for their room, not the additional rate of a single room.

EM: Our director is currently preparing recommendations for our campus leadership team. I have not yet heard official plans.

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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