Reopening Rec Centers: Staff Safety, Outdoor Programs and Aquatics

reopening rec centers

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Guidelines are in constant flux and change is daily. As such, reopening plans need to be flexible.

Erin Farrar, the executive director of Campus Recreational Service and Facilities at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, shared details of their first draft of a work in progress reopening plan. Several parts of it have been highlighted below.

30 Days Prior to Opening

Student Staff Protection Ideas Include:

While Nitrile gloves and face masks have been determined to be required, other areas of debate are plexiglass-partitions versus no partitions, and should students have limited access to their break room but with restrictions — i.e. remove tables and chairs, keep groups less than 10, they are only able to store food in the break room, etc.

Patron Protection Ideas Include:

  • Modified operating hours.
  • Facility intake quotas.
  • Signage regarding good cleanliness procedures.
  • Face masks to be recommended.
  • Tape on floor at front desk to designate where to stand.
  • Eliminate equipment rental versus strict cleaning of it.
  • Open rec areas will be open depending on social distancing rules. For example, if there is a strict six-foot rule, racquetball courts will be closed. But if it’s a 10 person or less rule, they will be open.

Aquatics Program Ideas Include:

  • Communication: website updated with COVID-19 policies; signage; and share pool policies — i.e. no lane sharing and six max in lap pool; six-foot social distance in spa with a 15 minute limit; total number of patrons allowed in the pool; must wash off prior to entering pool area with soap and water; 30 to 45 minute lane limits; and no volleyball or basketball.
  • Aquatics staff: masks, face shields and gloves; virtual in-service and small group in-person training; online meetings; and blended learning for certifications.
  • Patrons: potential lane sign-up sheet.

Outdoor Adventures (OA) Ideas Include:

  • Equipment rental office:
    • In-person only.
    • 20 to 28 hours per week (15% decrease in operating hours).
    • Must reserve equipment and pay prior to picking up.
    • Drop off will be at the front desk. Possibly create a returned gear area to “quarantine” gear until it’s cleaned.
  • Bike shop hours to be reduced to eight hours per week (20% decrease), or two hours a day for four days.
  • Communication with patrons: prepare signage to install at front of office; stanchion off front door; and Google Video Chat with iPads.
  • Website update with how to reserve equipment over the phone/email; Google Video Chat and contact information; pick up and return policies; fillable PDF disclaimer/COVID 19 waiver.
  • PPE and employee protection: masks/gloves/face shields; no contact with patrons; and specific cleaning procedures for returned equipment.
  • Trip program: If travel is allowed, then local trips only/no overnights.
    • Create food policy – i.e. no sharing food, prepackaged meals, etc.
    • Virtual hikes during trips for those who can’t attend.
    • Limit the amount of trips to two per month.
    • Plan trips in September and October, but nothing past Thanksgiving.
    • Online registrations through WebTrac only.
    • Trip leader training and pre-trip meetings will be virtual.
    • Create van ride policy — i.e. masks required, hand sanitizer in vans, extra water for patrons to wash hands with soap, cleaning procedures prior to and after trip, etc.
  • Bouldering wall:
    • Create liquid chalk and rental shoe policy.
    • Purchase handwashing station in cardio area.
    • Create signage with CDC recommendations.
    • Create max capacity and ‘bouldering during COVID-19’ rules.
    • Create and request repro for rental shoes only and no personal chalk and personal items on floor.
    • Install new bouldering pad covers.
    • Clean pad with recommended solution.
    • Create climbing hold cleaning policy.
    • Update website with COVID-19 policies.

First 30 Days Open

General Ideas Include:

  • Social distancing rules enforced on the basketball, racquetball and MAC courts, as well as the student break room.
  • Facility intake quotas enforced.
  • Equipment checkout rules enforced.
  • Locker room and locker rental rules enforced.
  • Meeting room rules enforced.
  • Front desk scanning: stanchions or stickers to ensure spacing between patrons; location of scanner allows patrons to self-scan.
  • Cleanliness standards being followed.

Aquatics Program Ideas Include:

  • Locker rooms: maintain patron limit to half capacity, require all patrons rinse off with soap prior to swimming, inclusive locker room will be watched and will be added to the total participant count in the pool area, etc.
  • Open recreation: add signage with updated COVID regulations, recommend social distancing; add tape to ground and signage for patrons not to come within six feet of the lifeguard on the stand; no equipment rental during Phase One; masks and PPE for down guards but no mask required for the lifeguard on the stand.
  • Audits: no “surprise” audits; plan alternative audits — i.e. verbal, watching videos, manikins for water rescue, etc.
  • Programming: no large-scale programming; virtual Triathlon using Strava; no private swim during Phase One; etc.

Outdoor Adventures Ideas Include:

  • Equipment rental: masks and PPE for employees; no in-person rentals — phone reservations and payment only; wash returned equipment ASAP.
  • Online workshops and Lunch and Learns: no large-scale training; online meetings and trainings when possible.
  • Outdoor trips: local travel allowed during opening; video chat options during office hours with equipment rental staff and trip leaders; limit amount of trip participants to six to eight and adjust break-even point to match lower maximum; temperature checks day before departure and each day of; keep partners paired throughout the trip — i.e. canoe with same person in the same canoe.
  • Bouldering wall: liquid chalk only; strip and clean the wall on a weekly basis; small sections to keep things clean; maintain shoe rentals; clean and mop pad with antibacterial solution on daily basis; set in same teams to prevent exposure; max two staff per shift; personal items must be in a cubby/locker and not on the floor around the boulder wall.
    • Cleaning the wall:
      • Wash with soap and water to clean.
      • Disinfect with diluted bleach following these CDC recommended directions. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 1/10 bleach solution to water.
    • Cleaning the pad:
      • Mix soap and water with 303 solution to damp the service with mop; do not saturate so solution gets into the seams of the pad.
    • Cleaning climbing holds:
      • Strip holds from wall.
      • Soak in soap and water prior to disinfecting with diluted bleach solution. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water or five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water.
Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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