More facilities have opened for student use at the Recreation Center this quarter. However, the Recreation Center continues to be prepared for use as an alternate care site for COVID- 19 patients.

When COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders began in the Spring, San Luis Obispo County reached out to Cal Poly to use the Recreation Center as an alternate care site for coronavirus patients, Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Director of Facilities Management Ron Skamfer said. The Recreation Center was deemed the best building on campus for this need because of its size and amenities, including showers.

The Recreation Center would not be used for acute care, but instead as a recovery facility where COVID-19 patients who no longer needed to be in the intensive care unit (ICU) could spend their last days of recovery.

Going into June 2020, the COVID-19 care facility in the Recreation Center had not been used, and the county’s COVID-19 case rates had improved. Therefore, ASI began creating plans to re-open Recreation Center facilities for the coming quarter.

In August, ASI opened up the outdoor lap pool and pool deck for weightlifting and workout classes. A few weeks later, ASI opened the outdoor climbing and bouldering rock walls.

These facilities, the lap pool, outdoor weights, climbing wall and instructor-led workout classes, are available to students by signing up for reservations through the ASI Access app or the ASI website.

Students sign up for one-hour time slots with a 30-minute break for cleaning in between every use of the facilities.

Once arriving for their allotted time slot, students must show their daily cleared campus pass, their reservation on the ASI app and their unique barcode provided on the app. 

According to Rick Craig, ASI Director of Recreational Sports, the ASI Access app has been crucial to the re-opening of the Recreation Center facilities. Prior to COVID-19, ASI used hand scanners for students to enter the Recreation Center. The use of the app has removed the need for everyone to touch a single scanner. 

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Video by Sofia Silva 

Currently, about 86% of the Recreation Center’s usage is by Cal Poly students.

“I want to say 100% of our usage is students with the exercise area and the climbing park, but it’s the pool that is used by faculty, staff and alumni,” Craig said.

Craig also said that the Recreation Center reservations book up quickly and often students have to reserve a spot early the day prior for lap swim or weight-lifting.

Eighteen people are allowed in the pool at a time, with one person per lane, and 21 people are allowed to exercise on the pool deck.

If students are actively exercising, including in the pool or on the pool deck, students are allowed to have their masks off, according to Craig. However, while in a fitness class or when unable to stay six feet apart from others, masks are required.

Students are also allowed to move from one workout station to another on the pool deck. If they choose to use multiple workout stations, they must clean their workout station with provided disinfectant spray bottles and towels before leaving, according to Craig.

There are multiple fitness classes provided by the Recreation Center including yoga, HIIT, body combat and more. Classes are limited to 10 people, including the instructor, and done outside on the pool deck or lawn.

Both the climbing wall and the bouldering wall are open for use through reservations and a maximum of 15 people are allowed at the climbing park at once.

Although the majority of outdoor facilities are open for use, the inside of the Recreation Center is still closed, except for the front desk and the set of restrooms closest to the pool deck.

The inside of the Recreation Center is still prepared for use as an alternate care site for COVID-19 patients.

The basketball court still contains beds for possible COVID-19 patients. There are currently 165 beds set up in the facility, but the Recreation Center’s infrastructure and space allows there to be a total of 607 beds if needed, ASI Assistant Coordinator of Marketing & Assessment for Recreational Sports Gina Wood said. 

These beds are ready to be used if there were to be a massive spike in cases and if the number of patients outgrew local hospital capacity.

According to Skamfer, if needed to be used as a COVID-19 care facility, the basketball court is prepared to be piped with liquid oxygen throughout.

In terms of sanitation, San Luis Obispo County is responsible for cleaning the beds and making sure the medical equipment is in good working order, according to Wood. ASI has been cleaning the non-medical and general areas of the facilities, including the restrooms and common areas.

If used as an alternate care site, the basketball court would be regarded as the “hot zone,” housing COVID-19 patients. Leading out of the court would be a series of pop-up tents connecting to where nurses would be able to take off their personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfect.

All the exercise equipment in the lower exercise room of the Recreation Center has been moved and the room now contains two wash stations for nurses to use after their shifts. The racquetball courts, although currently being used for storage, would be used as changing stations for nurses to use before and after entering the “hot zone.”

The Multi-Activity Center (MAC) is currently being used for mass storage of medical supplies including large equipment such as ventilators and oxygen concentrators. This equipment will stay in the MAC and is prepared for use in the case that the Recreation Center needs to turn into an alternate care site.

According to Skamfer, the Recreation Center’s alternate care facility could be prepared to house COVID-19 patients within about a week if coronavirus cases were to spike and hospitals outgrew capacity.

Although ASI employees including Craig and Skamfer are pleased with the re-opening of the Recreation Center and the facilities currently available to students, they did acknowledge the drawbacks of not being able to open indoor facilities.

“We’re just missing out on the flexibility of having a lot of different options,” Craig said.

Craig acknowledged that equipment like treadmills and other workout equipment that require electricity cannot be moved out on the pool deck. Craig also said that the environmental elements also play a big role in what facilities the Recreation Center can provide, especially as San Luis Obidpo moves into the more rainy months of the year.

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