COVID-19 Fall Semester at Five Universities

COVID-19 Fall semester

On October 9, 2020, Campus Rec Magazine hosted the COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable: The Fall Semester.


  • Kim Clark, the director of Campus Recreation at the University of Houston
  • Jeff Hunt, the director of Campus Recreation at the University of Maine
  • Tony Price, the director of Recreation Services at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Dale Ramsay, the director of Intramural Sports at the University of Louisville
  • Jay Souza, the director of Recreation and Wellness at the University of South Florida

Below is what each school is up to this semester and beyond:

The University of Colorado Boulder’s COVID-19 Fall Semester

The campus reopened on August 10 with a hybrid model in place. Price reported about 6,000 students are living on campus this fall; in fact, enrollment did not significantly dip.

As a department, they are supporting the academic offerings on campus by offering space for dozens of classes. The fitness facility even allotted one entrance specifically for academics.

Reservations are required for the more popular spaces in the facility and can be made up to three days in advance.

However, the facility almost closed after a COVID-19 case spike occurred coming off of Labor Day. As a result, Boulder County issued a public health order on September 23 geared toward 18 to 22-year-olds that increased restrictions on the demographic. It has been revised and loosened up since October 8.

But because of the order, Recreation Services has had limited student staff and is dealing with the mental challenges of the order. Students feel guilty and responsible. Plus, some have been stuck in their home for four to five weeks; as such, the department has been delivering meals and serving students in that way.

A Look at the University of Houston

Reopening August 10, the Campus Recreation department had two weeks to get settled prior to the start of fall classes.

With a record enrollment and the urban status to consider, Clark said they require masks at all times and were reservation only for a time. But things are changing. Recently, the Fitness Zone’s reservation restriction was lifted, and the natatorium was opened up for lap swim.

Between Semesters Plan So Far: Facility is open Monday to Friday, 5 to 8 p.m.

The University of Louisville’s COVID-19 Response

On June 15, the rec center reopened at 25% capacity. Now, it functions at 50%. The entire staff has been onsite since reopening.

A few interesting things:

  • The department has taken a big hit financially, but enrollment is up.
  • The student government bailed out Intramural and Recreational Sports.
  • The department delivers food weekly to isolated/quarantined students.
  • For the spring semester, the plan is to take out Spring Break, instead having a few three-day weekends.

One of the biggest ways the university has kept its cases down during the COVID-19 fall semester is credited to the president. Ramsay shared that the president had a Zoom call with each student group, letting them know it was up to them to keep campus open.

Between Semesters Plan So Far: Facility will be closed entirely from December 18 to early January.

The University of Maine’s COVID-19 Fall Semester

On campus, 60% of students are taking face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 fall semester. Typically, the fitness facility sees 2,000 students a day; right now, the numbers are more along the lines of 400 to 500 students. The biggest pro to this? Hunt said there is no trouble finding parking.

The rec center reopened in July. Masks are mandatory, locker rooms are closed and the climbing gym is open by reservation only. The trail system is open and in use as well.

All in all, Hunt said reopening has gone better than he initially thought.

Between Semesters Plan So Far: Facility is open Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The University of South Florida’s Reopening Adventures

Two of the three rec centers on campus reopened August 24. However, when several student staff came down with COVID-19, they closed again from September 14 until October 5.

The facility has been under what Souza said is extreme measures due to the nature of the university’s response to COVID-19. Since reopening a second time, there have been added enhancements:

  • 20 student staff members are tested per week.
  • Hours of operations have been decreased.
  • The facility is sprayed every night.

Students still check in every day via an app that greenlights them to go on campus or not that day. Outdoor usage remains open as well.

Between Semesters Plan So Far: The facilities will close completely.

Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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