Life in the HRC with changed COVID-19 restrictions

Students exercise in Butler’s Health and Recreation Center, wearing face masks. Masks have been required in the HRC, regardless of vaccination status, since August 9th. Photo by Lauren Jindrich.

GRACE WORCESTER | STAFF REPORTER | gworcester@butler.edu

With Butler University’s campus open for the fall semester, the Health & Recreation Complex, HRC, located next to the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse is back to full capacity. From early morning workouts to quick pick-up games, laps in the pool and various late night activities, the HRC has ensured that the facility is COVID-19 safe for all students and staff. Despite machines being back to full use, the sauna and hot tub remain closed. 

Each student working out at the HRC is expected to clean their station before and after with cleaning wipes that are available on each floor. Mats and weights are expected to be cleaned as well, and social distancing is no longer enforced. Towels are also now available on each level. 

Director of health and recreation, Leah Weprich, said she is passionate about keeping the facility safe and continues to come up with new ideas to make sure students are enjoying their time on campus in a healthy way.

Weprich makes decisions based on CDC guidelines and, with the rest of the HRC team, is figuring out ways to put on new events for students to enjoy. 

“The biggest adjustment is the lack of COVID-19 protocols compared to this past school year,” Weprich said. “Masks are still mandatory as well as cleaning, but equipment is opened back up. A lot of the staff came in during this past school year and are not used to the current business of the facility.”

Weprich said keeping up with the constant changes from the CDC and being fully in-person has proved to be a challenge for the HRC. Making sure all guidelines are continuously followed as well as retraining staff has been a difficult adjustment. 

Junior elementary education major Sara Panek works at the front desk of the HRC and helps keep all of the equipment safe and clean to use. 

“It’s been an adjustment with a bigger crowd and with the mask mandate because people do not like to workout with masks on, but it is just something that we need to keep enforcing,” Panek said. “This is just something we’ll have to get used to again but it does feel great to have everyone back.”

Employees viewed the first week of school as a trial run for what is to come in the future for the HRC. The most pressing problem is enforcing the mask mandate inside the facility. 

Sophomore economics major Josh Ulisano is enjoying his time in the HRC after experiencing a strange first year.

“It has been way better than last year because of the machines all being fully open and untaped, and you can now have a team of five on the basketball courts,” Ulisano said. 

Weprich said employees of the HRC are eager to see what comes next and are thrilled to have everyone back. Students should continue to check the HRC website for more updates and information on current COVID-19 guidelines and updates on the facility.

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