Reopening Plans at Universities Across the Nation

reopening plans

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On August 7, 2020, Campus Rec Magazine hosted the COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable: Where Are We Now? to discuss the reopening plans of universities across the nation.


  • Lindy Fenex, the director of Recreation at the University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside)
  • Clint Hafliger, the associate director of Recreational Services at Kansas State University (KSU)
  • Timber Hines, the director of Recreation Services at Georgia State University (GSU)
  • Tiffany Lomax, the director of Recreation Services at Colby College
  • Lashica Thomas, the assistant director of Operations and Marketing for Campus Recreation at Columbus State University (CSU)

Below are some of the top takeaways from the roundtable:

Colby College

As if a pandemic weren’t challenging enough, try opening a new facility and starting as a director during this time. That’s what Lomax is currently doing at Colby.

One positive, however, has been that the new facility is shared with athletics. With their 2,000 students, she said they will only be serving university members this year in the new facility.

Currently, they are using the outdoors, are not allowing any shared equipment, have spaced things out using Maine’s 14-foot guideline for intense exercise, etc. Students are able to reserve cardio equipment via IM Leagues, there are rotations for pool usage, and they are using the atrium in the rec center for fitness classes.

Columbus State University

Opening Monday, August 10, the rec facility will be on reduced hours due to funding and less staff.

In order to prepare students for the return, Thomas said they made short videos on how to enter, what’s different in the rec center, etc.

Students can voluntarily take their temperature, and it’s all touchless/staff-less. Thomas said if the students have an elevated temperature, they can pick up a stack of cards that inform them of what an elevated temperature means and the next steps they should take.

She’s also had to revise their waiver and insert COVID-19 language into it. Plus, it’s been important to assess how to handle those who are unable to wear face masks into the facility for any number of medical reasons.

Finally, they are using a signage system to denote clean and dirty equipment. Each piece has a sign that is red on one side and green on the other. If the piece has been used, students are asked to flip the sign to red when they are done. This lets staff know the equipment needs to be cleaned. Once sanitized, the card will be flipped back to green.

Georgia State University

With 53,000 students, GSU is coming back to school with a blended model. The main recreation facility is opening back up on August 17. All will be required to wear face masks and the facility will be at 25% capacity.

Right now, the school’s reopening plans include to start small group programming on September 21 and then conduct limited space reservations beginning October 1.

One neat thing the university has done is mail masks to its employees. Plus, professional staff at the rec center were allowed to return on a staggered schedule starting July 6.

Kansas State University

The rec facility at KSU opened August 3. A few things they’ve done include only having one entrance, all patrons must have their temperatures taken, and the common five health questions are being asked.

Plus, the ID card reader is now a touchless system and hours of the rec center have been reduced. On average, Hafliger said they’ve been seeing 250 students a day, down from their average of 1,200 a day.

One key piece they’ve been using is an electrostatic sprayer. Hafliger has two and is waiting on two more to ship. They cost $600 and are used hourly.

University of California Riverside

The university will be mostly remote in the fall, with Fenex reporting only 10 to 15% of students will be in-person. Those who are will be in single rooms in the dorms as part of the school’s cautious approach.

While he said he doesn’t think they will open before January, they are still evaluating reopening plans via a phased approach. This includes equipment spacing and prepping hand sanitizing stations.

What they have been doing while closed is checking out equipment. Students can rent out various pieces for up to two weeks at a time. It has allowed the rec center members to continue their fitness routines from home.

Other topics discussed included:

  • Equipment checkout software — UC Riverside and CSU use Fusion.
  • Students’ comfort level with working — UC Riverside said its students seem eager and KSU noted only 10% have said they don’t’ want to come back to work.
  • Locker room protocols — GSU is allowing those who already had lockers to keep them, but isn’t doing any new rentals.
  • Electrostatic sprayers and training — CSU had the national guard come down and instruct staff on how to use the equipment; KSU created videos on how to operate the sprayers.
  • Face mask pushback — While some schools have seen more pushback in face mask wearing from professional staff, CSU has equipped its staff with small cards that denote how staff are to handle such encounters with students.

You can check out the full roundtable on reopening plans here.

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

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