Following governor's executive order, U-M Recreational Sports announces plans to reopen facilities

Thursday, September 3, 2020 - 8:36pm

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Gyms and pools can reopen subject to restrictions to uphold public health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday. Some organized sports will also be permitted to resume as part of the state’s gradual reopening process.

Following the governor’s executive order, the University of Michigan’s Department of Recreational Sports announced plans to begin reopening its facilities to the campus community in the next several weeks.

The department noted that the process would not take place immediately, nor without the proper health and safety measures recommended by state and federal officials.

“The exact reopening dates for each facility will not be determined until we evaluate the amount of work still needed,” the update read. “We will then develop timelines for how quickly this work can be completed and ensure we can meet all additional state requirements.”

In the press release, Whitmer explained that her order is in accordance with the public-health informed policies her office has tried to pursue during the pandemic.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have followed the best science and data available to make decisions that will keep Michiganders safe, and our hard work is paying off,” Whitmer said. “Today we are announcing the reopening of gyms and pools with strict safety measures in place to protect patrons and their families.”

In an interview with The Daily, Mike Widen, director of recreational sports at the University, said the plan will be rolled out in phases and with students’ health in mind.

“We put together a phased reopening plan that will include some reduced hours when we open,” Widen said. “We wanted to reduce the hours a little bit so we get a chance to really get some extra cleaning done in between times. Luckily we have three facilities in order to make that happen. So we’re gonna look at less hours per day for each facility but we’ll try to make sure that each facility, we get the most utilization time.”

In addition to frequent cleaning and spaced out exercise equipment, Widen said that intramural sports would occur in a safe manner, only with activities that allow for a greater degree of social distancing than the intramural sports students usually play

“The intramural sports program is starting this fall with outdoor and virtual programs only,” Widen said. “So the outdoor programs will be those that we can physically distance, so we’re doing things like (for) basketball we’re playing HORSE instead of five-on-five or three-on-three. We’re playing beanbags, we’re playing Kan Jam, we’re playing Pickleball, we’re playing singles tennis.”

The Department of Recreational Sports anticipates needing time to fully reopen gyms in order to “complete the necessary hiring, training, maintenance and safety precautions to prepare our facilities to safely operate in a COVID-19 public health informed environment.”

Daily Staff Reporter Ben Rosenfeld can be reached at bbrosenf@umich.edu