Wise Center to reopen with new protocols

The David V. Wise Center is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Sept. 14 with modified hours, following the two-week campus-wide quarantine.

“The Wise Center is scheduled to open on Sept. 14, once the Allegheny College Health Agency approves the campus-wide quarantine to be lifted and regular activity to resume,” wrote Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Sean King in an email to the Campus.  

The Wise Center will have limited hours this semester and will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the week. Some rooms may not be available throughout the week during scheduled disinfection. For deep cleaning purposes, the Wise Center will experience reduced hours on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. The building will be open on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

According to the Wise Center Reopening Plan, there are three phases for reopening the Wise Center that correspond to the college’s phases for reopening. Each phase requires individuals to wear a cloth face covering while in the facility and everyone entering the building must scan their ID cards upon entering and before exiting the building. 

“(We) are starting in phase III since (the Wise Center) did not open over the summer,” said Director of Recreation and Facilities Jared Luteran. “If we should have to revert back to phase II or phase I, then (we) will follow the guidance of the ACHA.”

The Wise Center will reopen at 50% capacity, and only students, staff and faculty are allowed to enter the building. Outside guests, including family members, paid members, alumni and retired employees are strictly prohibited from entering the Wise Center this semester.

“At the Wise Center, it is our priority to keep our guests safe, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Athletics & Recreation Department said in the Wise Center Reopening Plan. “As such, we will abide by federal, state, and local guidelines as we strive to balance public health concerns with the needs of our college ─ while still providing equitable access for all. With that priority in mind, the Wise Center is taking numerous steps to reduce the potential for COVID-19 spread in this facility.” 

Individuals susceptible to COVID-19, such as those over the age of 65 and those with chronic health conditions are strongly encouraged not to use the Wise Center. 

“Vulnerable individuals are defined by the CDC as people age 65 years and older and others with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma and those whose immune systems are compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy,” according to the reopening plan.

Luteran emphasized that any community member who is experiencing flu-like symptoms should not enter campus buildings, including the Wise Center.

To maintain 50% occupancy, limitations on room capacity have been established to meet physical distancing guidelines. 

 Two individuals on opposite sides of the tennis court can play together as long as they maintain physical distance. The racquetball court capacity allows one person to practice, but games are prohibited. Individuals interested in using the court for stretching or stationary core workouts are limited to nine people at a time. Similarly, only one person is permitted to use a basketball hoop, and the blue court area has a capacity of 25 ー this includes the blue courts, the track and the selectorized machines. The public weight room and the cardio room both have a maximum capacity of 15, and the dance studio can accommodate 11 people. 

Despite the decrease in weight room accommodation size, varsity athletes will continue to only use the varsity weight room instead of utilizing both available spaces.

“This policy will remain the same as last year,” Luteran said. “The varsity athletes will be using the varsity weight room during most hours of the day under the supervision of a strength coach.”

Individuals concerned about occupancy restrictions can call 814-332-PLAY (7529) to check the room capacity before entering the Wise Center. 

The Wise Center has new protocols for the 2020-21 academic year, outlined in the Wise Center Reopening Plan, to limit exposure and contact while using the amenities.

Anyone interested in using the facility must wear their workout clothing or swimsuit to the Wise Center due to the inability to use the locker rooms this semester. Guests can use the cubicle spaces provided in the main lobby to store personal belongings. 

Guests should bring water bottles as the water fountains have been shut off until further notice. One water fountain with a touchless bottle filler station will be available for community members. 

Guests are required to sanitize their spaces with the disinfectant wipes provided after they use gym equipment, and must bring their own mats, plyometric balls, boxing gloves and sporting balls this semester to limit potential exposure.

 “(Athletics & Recreation) is also asking all users to wipe down the equipment with our EPA registered disinfectant wipes before and after each use,” Luteran said. “(Staff) have placed several wipe dispensers and hand sanitizing stations at multiple locations throughout the building.”

While guests are required to sanitize equipment after usage, student workers and housekeeping will also regularly clean high-contact surfaces with disinfectant.

“(We) will have more student workers on shifts than (we) typically do and they will be cleaning regularly with a virucide disinfectant cleaner,” Luteran said. “Housekeeping will be using a Clorox electrostatic sprayer throughout the building on Saturday evenings and on Sundays.”

Guests are encouraged to use the hand sanitizer dispensers located throughout the building and are required to use hand sanitizer before entering the pool, according to the Wise Center Reopening Plan. The chlorine levels in the pool have been raised 2.0 ppm, and Open Swim has been decreased to 12:00-1:00 PM. 

“Open swimmers and athletes will have to come prepared to swim with their suit underneath their clothes,” Athletics & Recreations announced in the Wise Center Reopening Plan. “(Swimmers) can dry off on the pool deck and put their street clothes over top of their suit. There will be individual stations that are at least six feet apart around the deck for swimmers to place their personal belongings while they swim.”

Swimmers are required to limit loitering on the deck after pool usage and only one swimmer per lane is permitted. Lifeguards will enforce new COVID-19 protocols for all swimmers as well as regularly sanitize high-contact points, Athletics & Recreation added. 

Individuals who do not feel well or would like to err on the side of caution have the option to use free virtual fitness opportunities. These workouts can be done around campus or in the individual’s residence. Once the quarantine has been completed, these workouts can be done in the parks surrounding the greater Meadville area. 

“There are some great benefits to doing some of your workouts at home, one is that you don’t have an excuse to not get a workout in,” according to the Athletics & Recreation website. “You can wear what you want and not have to worry about others around you.”