Rec Center responds to COVID-19

There have been several changes in staffing and programming at the Student Recreation Center

These changes come in addition to the safety measures the Rec Center has been taking since the beginning of the semester. Instead of high-risk intramurals like football and soccer, there will be pickleball, badminton and tennis. Steps are being taken to eliminate shared equipment and to sanitize any equipment that is used. Inside the Recreation Center patrons must wear masks and maintain six feet of social distance. Staff members clean every half-hour and patrons who use equipment such as ellipticals, treadmills and mats must sanitize them before and after use.   

The Recreation Center has also undergone some changes in staffing this year, as the previous director of campus recreation retired in June. The search process has been underway since July, and if all goes as planned, a new director will be selected by Jan. 1, 2021.  

Janna Stoskopf, vice president for student affairs, is serving as the interim campus recreation director. She said because of COVID-19 and other changes, the search for a new director started later than planned. 

There are two students who are a part of the search committee and there will also be an open forum time that students will be able to attend. Candidates will be reviewed by the search committee and an ultimate decision will be made by Stoskopf with the approval of President Sue Thomas

Stoskopf said there has been a strong pool of candidates, and there is now only a handful of candidates left who will go through the next stages of the process. 

There was also a rule change at the Recreation Center in addition to staffing changes. Originally, masks were not required during high intensity workouts, otherwise they were required at all times in the Recreation Center. This rule was changed about a week into the academic year, a change Stoskopf said was unpopular, but necessary.

“With the campus-wide policy about masks indoors, there was some concern initially as people are engaged in high-intensity activity, how does the mask affect a person’s ability to breathe easily,” Stoskopf said. “We started with a more lenient [policy], if you’re engaged in high intensity activity, then you didn’t necessarily have to have the mask on, but as soon as the activity stopped, you had to have the mask on. What we observed during the time that we had that in place, is that people were taking advantage of that and not putting the mask on when they were done.”

For those who feel uncomfortable doing high-intensity activity with a mask, Stoskopf recommends mask brackets, which consist of a plastic framework that goes underneath the mask. Mask brackets allow for more room between the mask and the mouth, allowing the wearer to breathe in without the mask sticking to the mouth. However, Stoskopf does not recommend masks with filters, because filters break up any exhaled droplets and allow them to pass through the mask. She also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends those who have trouble doing high-intensity workouts with a mask go to a location with better ventilation,  a location outside away from other people or to choose an activity that requires less intensity.

Eric Vaughn, director of intramural and recreational sports, said the Recreation Center is important to students this year not only as a way to stay healthy and release endorphins, but also as a way to release stress and be with other people. Stoskopf said the Recreation Center is providing avenues for students to be mindful and address not only physical well-being but also the role that nutrition, sleep and financial health fit in to reducing stress and being healthy. 

“I think [the students] certainly need outlets to engage in wellness types of activities,” Stoskopf said. “The Rec Center certainly has the physical component of that. There’s also things on the wellness side that are connected to the Rec Center website that expand to mindfulness and taking time for reflection and being very intentional and conscious about well-being and one’s lifestyle. I want us to get into a more broad scope of wellness and I think we’re moving in that direction with some conversations we’ve had recently. I think we’re going to see the development of more of a multi-disciplinary wellness route.” 

Stoskopf said the Recreation Center staff is open to suggestions. Students can communicate ideas through the suggestion boxes in the Recreation Center, or they can email