Kent State Recreation Center reopens with restrictions

Becca SagarisReporter

The Beverly J. Warren Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC) reopened Aug. 17, but due to the current pandemic, updates and adaptations have been made in order to keep patrons safe and healthy.

In addition to the SRWC, the Kent State University Ice Arena and select outdoor recreation facilities, including the disc golf course, student recreation fields, outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts and sand volleyball courts, also reopened on Aug. 17. Tri-Rec is planned to reopen Sept. 8, according to the Department of Recreation Services reopening FAQ webpage.

“Probably one of the biggest things we have done was spread out as much, if not all, of the equipment to provide social distancing, which allowed us to keep most of the equipment available,” James Kraus, SRWC marketing coordinator, said. “We’ve also changed some policies on pre-registration for things such as lap swim lanes, the climbing wall, basketball courts, things of that nature, to help limit capacities in certain areas.”

Amenities that will not be available upon reopening include the locker room showers, saunas, racquetball courts, fitness studios, except scheduled classes and programs, drinking fountains except the contactless bottle fillers, equipment checkout, towel service, various fitness equipment including stretching mats, foam and rumble rollers, physio balls, medicine balls, steps and risers and body bars, member coffee and facility rentals, according to the Department of Recreation Services reopening FAQ webpage. 

Regarding COVID-19 safety regulations, it is crucial all patrons who access the SRWC follow the Flashes Safe Seven Principles and CDC protocols by wearing a face covering, self-screening for symptoms of COVID-19 and not entering if feeling unwell, as well as practicing safe physical distancing, following the enhanced cleaning protocols and utilizing sanitization stations, according to the Department of Recreation Services reopening FAQ webpage. 

“We’ve put up safety shields at all of the major touchpoints like the Pro Shop, Welcome Desk, Equipment Issue and Climbing Wall desk,” Kraus said. “We have a requirement that everyone wear masks throughout the building at all times, except when they’re in the water. Our staff has got a pretty rigorous cleaning routine. They will go through, clean and wipe down railings, handles, equipment and lots of other stuff from when we open until we close. We also ask that people wipe down equipment before and after use.” 

Upon entering the SRWC, there will be magnetic card readers and bar code scanners for members to self-swipe or scan their ID. A new KSU Rec-Wellness app will be available soon for download, where members can instead scan a barcode Member ID to enter the facility, according to the Department of Recreation Services reopening FAQ webpage. 

“When you enter the building, you enter through a certain door and you exit through a different one,” Kraus said. “When you enter and reach the welcome desk, there’s a queue line with ‘stand here’ dots on the floor to make sure that people are spreading out as they come in.”

Only members with a monthly, semester and annual membership are permitted to access the SRWC, including active SilverSneakers and Renew Active members. Guest passes, day passes and punch passes are not available at this time, according to the Department of Recreation Services reopening FAQ webpage. 

“We had close to 2,500 people that came in the first week,” Kraus said. “Roughly, I think we’re down about 30 to 40 percent compared to normal. Some of that depends on the weather, some of it is because of the changes that have happened on campus.”

Members who currently have a membership with SRWC but do not feel comfortable returning at this time are able to request a freeze to their membership for up to six months. Those who would rather cancel their membership entirely are welcome to and would receive any necessary refund. To freeze or cancel, members must complete the following Membership Change Form, according to the Department of Recreation Services reopening FAQ webpage. 

“Our goal is to try to keep as much open as possible and to keep everybody as safe as possible,” Kraus said. “The biggest thing is wearing the masks. As long as patrons and staff are wearing masks and following the rules, we give ourselves a good chance to continue to stay open and provide services.”

Becca Sagaris is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]