Last month, the University announced vaccinated individuals will be allowed to remove their masks while using cardio equipment, swimming and in group fitness classes when participants can still socially distance. This does not include other cardio-related activities, such as using the track or during activities that occur on the basketball court, such as intramural sports or club basketball.
Since the rule change, Aquatic and Fitness Center supervisors and staff have noticed some struggles to enforce masks in the areas of the facility where masks are still required, but for the most part, members have been respecting the mask policy.
Third-year College student Maggie Young is a supervisor at the AFC and said she has perceived an overall positive reaction from students and other community members who come to the AFC.
“Some patrons have also asked us for clarification on the policy, which is also great because I am more than happy to help them better understand the new changes at the AFC,” Young said.
Young agrees with the University’s new masking policy at IM-Rec facilities and said that “most people that come to the AFC comply with the rules.”
The University's previous policy required masks to be worn upon entering all IM-Rec facilities with no exceptions. The policy was relaxed to allow masks to be removed in certain settings due to declining COVID-19 cases and the ability to space out the cardio equipment to allow social distancing.
A topic of discussion many IM-Rec facility members have expressed opinions on — especially students at the University — is when the indoor basketball courts will be available again for open play. The courts were closed Sept. 6 due to a lack of consistent mask compliance and in order to “mitigate violations that could potentially lead to closure of all IM-Rec Sports facilities here on Grounds,” according to an email sent to AFC employees.
Third-year College student Jonathan Mondrey is a referee for intramural basketball and said he has noticed that some participants have struggled to play basketball with masks on.
“A lot of the IM players are really struggling to play at such a fast pace while keeping the mask from slipping off or even just breathing with it on,'' Mondrey said. “If the IM-Rec facilities allow masks to be removed on cardio equipment to make it easier for people in terms of being able to catch their breath better and not feeling as constricted, I think that logic should apply for playing basketball as well.”
Memorial Gymnasium is another gym on Grounds that offers unique amenities such as a combative and boxing room and multiple outdoor fields and courts. The gym also offers open-play on the basketball courts outside of the facility while supervised.
Third-year College student Tanner Lewis has been attending Memorial Gym since he was a first year. In an email statement to The Cavalier Daily, Lewis said he was disappointed when the updated mask policy came out because he was hoping it would be more lenient than it was.
“I think the University should get rid of the mask policy completely in the IM-Rec facilities,” Lewis said. “If they were to maybe spread the equipment out more and rotate days some machines could be used, the safety compliances would be met, but now it seems useless since we are all vaccinated.”
The AFC is the only gym on Grounds that has an indoor aquatics facility, so all University water-related events are held there. This includes open swim time for all AFC members, swim and dive practices and intramural water-related events.The mask policy regarding the aquatics facility is that members have to wear masks while going to the pool, in the locker room and on the swim deck — but not in the water.
Some AFC members have questioned why the mask policy in the aquatics facility did not change. Third-year College student Eva Dalhberg, who participates in intramural inner tube water polo at the AFC, said that she wished the AFC decided to not make members wear masks on the swim deck while getting in and out of the water.
“You are around the same people whether you are in the pool or not in the pool, so if someone playing water polo had COVID and only wore their mask on the pool deck, you would still get exposed in the water,” Dalhberg said.