The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Athletic Center to Reopen, Contingent on Health Department Walkthrough

Photo: Sidney Domroes

Pending a mandatory walkthrough by the Oneida County Health Department, the Kunath Fitness Center, commonly known as the Athletic Center, is set to reopen, according to a statement provided by Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management Jeff Gates.

Although an unofficial reopening date was set for Oct. 19, the college and the athletic department were still working to grasp a firm reopening plan before last weekend, which spilled into the original reopen date. Director of Athletics David Fontaine attended regular meetings on the matter and was unable to provide a comment as a result.

According to Gates, the news continues a college initiative aimed at providing students with engaging activities despite a restricted semester. The memo sent to students notes recent success of maintaining a safe environment, confirmed by the college’s COVID-19 dashboard that shows just two students are currently positive.

“Part of our ability to return to in-person activities this semester has been not only through our safety measures and aggressive testing protocols, but your dedication and understanding of the further guidelines set forth by public health officials,” Gates said in the memo.

The experience, as with much of college life this semester, will be heavily monitored and restricted to keep students, and students only safe. New regulations include temperature checks, appointments maxed at 45 minutes and sanitization of all equipment every 15 minutes on the hour. Full details, according to the memo, include:

  • Maximum occupancy will be limited to 33 percent, or approximately 15 people.
  • Advance reservations are required for 45-minute (maximum) workout sessions. 
  • Temperature checks will be done at the door.
  • Users must social distance and wear masks (and wear them properly) at all times.
  • We have installed MERV-13 air filters in the ventilation system, which are specially designed to filter out particles of COVID-19.
  • Equipment will be sanitized every 15 minutes on the hour. 
  • Locker rooms and showers will remain closed

The announcement also comes weeks after the college confirmed its stance on visitation between residence halls, noting that no visitation will continue to be the norm until further notice, which is cited from the number of both mask and guest policy violations.

Although the message was viewed in a positive manner by the college, some students were left frustrated with the timing of the decision as many have signed contracts for paid memberships at local gyms, which are non-refundable contracts.

“I know some aspects of campus life had to be sacrificed this semester, but we leave in one month,” senior Brendon Durow said. “I’m happy this option is available, but I’ve already poured a lot of money into gym memberships off-campus that I cannot get out of. To be honest, I’d still rather go there than the Athletic Center.”

The college credits its success with handling the pandemic as a result of protective measures that keep cases low until November. However, its recent success hasn’t gone unnoticed by the administration who, according to Gates, will continue to install a sense of normalcy going forward.

“It is our hope that the opening of the fitness center will provide valuable opportunities for students to exercise and create fitness routines, which many studies have shown aid not only in one’s physical well-being but mental health as well, helping to ease some of the exhaustion and frustration we’re all living with,” Gates said. “Through your patience and dedication, we are slowly working toward regaining the best sense of normalcy and doing so as safely as possible.”

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