Last month, the university announced that vaccinated individuals will be allowed to remove their masks while using cardio equipment, swimming and in group fitness classes when participants can still social distancing. This does not include other cardio-related activities, such as using the track or during activities that occur on the basketball court, such as team sports or club basketball.
Since the rule change, Aquatic and Fitness Center supervisors and staff have noticed some difficulties in enforcing masks in areas of the facility where masks are still required, but for the most part, members have been respecting the mask policy.
Maggie Young, a third-year college student, is an AFC supervisor and said she has noticed general positive reactions from students and other community members who come to the AFC.
“Some of the sponsors have also asked us for clarification on the policy, which is also great because I’m more than happy to help them better understand the new changes in the AFC,” Young said.
Young agrees with the university’s new masking policy at IM-Rec facilities and said that “most people who come to the AFC stick to the rules”.
The university’s previous policy was to require masks to be worn when entering all IM-Rec facilities, with no exceptions. The policy has been relaxed to allow masks to be removed in certain places due to a drop in COVID-19 cases and the ability to unload cardio equipment to allow for social distancing.
A topic of discussion that many IM-Rec members have expressed — especially students at the university — is when indoor basketball courts will once again be available for open play. Courts were closed on September 6 due to a lack of consistent mask compliance and in order to “mitigate violations that could lead to the closure of all IM-Rec Sports facilities here on Earth,” according to an email sent to AFC staff.
Jonathan Mundry, a third-year college student, an indoor basketball referee, said he noticed some participants struggled to play basketball with masks.
“A lot of chat players really struggle to play at that fast pace while keeping the mask from slipping off or even just breathing in it,” Mundry said. “If the IM-Rec facilities allow for the removal of masks on the cardio equipment to make it easier for people to be able to catch their breath better and not be upset, I think that logic should apply to playing basketball as well.”
Memorial Gymnasium is another gym on the grounds that offers unique amenities such as a fighting and boxing room and several courts and outdoor fields. The gym also offers the possibility of open play on the basketball courts outside the facility while it is supervised.
Third-year college student Tanner Lewis has been enrolled in Jim Memorial since he was in first year. In an email statement to The Cavalier Daily, Lewis said he was disappointed when the updated mask policy came out because he hoped it would be more lenient than it was.
“I think the university should completely get rid of the mask policy at IM-Rec facilities,” Lewis said. “If they wanted to maybe spread out the equipment more and rotate days some machines could be used, safety compliance would be met, but now it seems useless because we’re all vaccinated.”
The AFC is the only gym on the field that has an indoor aquatics facility, so all of the university’s water-related events are held there. This includes swimming time open to all AFC members, swimming and diving practices, and water related events within the vicinity. The mask policy with respect to the aquatic facility is that members are required to wear masks while going to the pool, in the locker room and on the swimming deck. – But not in the water.
Some AFC members have questioned why the mask policy at the aquarium facility has not been changed. College sophomore Eva Dahlberg, who is participating in the AFC inner tube water polo game, said she wishes the AFC decided not to force members to wear masks on the swimming surface while getting in and out of the water.
“You’re close to the same people whether you’re in the pool or not, so if someone playing water polo has COVID and only wears their mask on the pool deck, you’ll still be exposed in the water,” Dalhberg said.