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Athletic Center reopens under strict COVID-19 restrictions

Athletic Center reopens under strict COVID-19 restrictions

The Kenyon Athletic Center is using a new app, KACfit, for contact tracing of visitors. | SARA HALEBLIAN

On Monday, Sept. 7, the Kenyon Athletic Center’s (KAC) fitness and recreation area opened for students, athletes and faculty members. 

In order to maintain proper social distancing guidelines, the KAC’s sports facilities are operating in a rather complicated way. For one, a new app called KACfit has been developed to regulate all activity at the KAC, Justin Newell, the College’s associate athletic director, explained.  “This app allows us to monitor the capacity of spaces and coordinate the schedules of everyone moving around the building,” he said.

The traditional free-flowing entry and exit is no longer in place. Visitors are required to schedule their visit in advance on the KACfit app, although appointments are not required when students are taking a course in the building or visiting a coach. In addition, all KAC visitors must check in at the front desk by scanning a barcode produced by the KACfit app. This allows the staff to track everyone who has entered the facility and to ensure a minimal risk of exposure to COVID-19. All sports activities must be conducted within the altered hours of operation. 

In addition to scheduling, the KACfit app is being utilized to replace typical interactions students may have had while in the Center. The app serves as a digital platform for a variety of athletic needs, as well as a space for new updates and messages from the KAC. It also gives students access to fitness services including workout videos, progress tracking, fitness challenges and nutrition plans. “There is a whole community for you to be able to explore,” Newell said in the KAC fall 2020 welcome video. 

According to Newell, the KAC is constantly being cleaned and disinfected in order to ensure the safety of its visitors. “The fitness center has a system in place to allow for cleaning of equipment every 50 minutes and a deep clean in the evening from custodial,” he said. High-contact points are regularly cleaned with electrostatic sprayers and locker rooms and bathrooms are cleaned every two hours.

The KAC has also changed its operational protocols for many pieces of commonly used equipment. For example, lockers will no longer be available for overnight use, except for NCAA athletes, while students and faculty members are required to clean their lockers before they leave the Center. In addition, all the water fountains in the facility have been closed to minimize the risk of infection. As for sports equipment, only basketballs will be provided; equipment for other sports, such as tennis rackets, must be supplied by visitors.

Currently, fall and spring athletes have begun practicing at the center. All training and participation is set up to strictly follow the NCAA’s health and safety guidelines.

Though students and faculty members may not be able to utilize the KAC for the same fitness and recreation routines they are used to, its staff are dedicated to making the experience as safe and enjoyable as possible. The KAC staff members have worked to ensure a safe reopening, strictly following the COVID-19 state and local guidelines.

“Everything is going relatively well,” Newell said a week after reopening. “There are always some bumps as we change the culture and get people used to a new method of doing things.” 

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