Thousands of students are returning to Lerner Health and Wellness Center after more than a year of limited bookings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said nearly 4,500 students had consulted Lerner on Friday for more than 15,000 visits since August 23, after bookings and shorter training sessions limited faculty operations last year as the campus population remained low during the coronavirus pandemic. She said officials are focusing on keeping the facility clean to allay the concerns of people who may be hesitant to exercise indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nosal said nearly 1,000 students use Lerner every day of the week, which is lower than pre-pandemic averages, but significantly higher than at the start of the year, while the reduced service limited the student access to the gymnasium. She said more than 400 students use Lerner per day on weekends, but they expect the visitor rate to decline as exams and classes increase student workloads.
“The center is busy, and returning students are eager to return to a place they have visited often, and our students who are new to campus are figuring out what their semester routine will look like in incorporating physical fitness into their schedule. “Nosal said in an email.
Nosal declined to say how many people visited Lerner on a daily basis before and during the pandemic.
She said DC’s coronavirus guidelines required Lerner to shut down from March 2020 to that year’s fall semester, when authorities began allowing students on campus to schedule hourly training blocks in that year. establishment.
Nosal said Lerner and housekeeping staff regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces in the gym, including fitness equipment, to keep the building sanitized. She said officials provide disinfectant spray, cleaning wipes and paper towels to visitors and ask people to clean the equipment after each use.
“The cleanliness of the entire facility remains a very high priority for Lerner’s team, so we continue to work closely with our housekeeping team to regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces in the facility. , including fitness equipment, ”she said.
Nosal said Lerner’s workers regularly travel to each floor of the building to enforce the masking policy and report violations of the policy to student rights and responsibilities.
She said officials aimed to hire and train co-op students, which she said are necessary for the gymnasium to function fully, but Lerner is still several weeks away from reaching student staffing levels. ” optimal “.
Nosal said Lerner will continue to offer online fitness classes, like virtual yoga and zumba, and that students can purchase a semester pass to weekly fitness classes for $ 79.
“While we know that many are excited to work out indoors at the gym, we realize that some in our community may still be hesitant to exercise indoors,” she said. “For that reason, this fall we are offering a hybrid fitness program with in-person and virtual offerings, and the program can be viewed online.”
In interviews, ten students said officials effectively enforce the mask’s mandate through ground checks, but social distancing restrictions and equipment sanitation can sometimes be overlooked.
Freshman Vivian Ealy, who uses the gym three times a week, said she mostly felt safe training at Lerner because students need to be vaccinated and show their coronavirus clearance status before they enter the building. But she is concerned that some people will not clean weightlifting equipment after each use, which she says can cause hygiene or coronavirus issues.
“We have to wipe down the equipment after using it,” Vivian said. “I know some people don’t because you have to trust people to do it, so I’m not really sure the equipment gets totally wiped out every time.”
She also said the “small” size of the weightlifting hall can make it difficult to fully meet social distancing requirements.
“The weight room is quite small,” she said. “So when it’s really crowded, everyone is crowded, breathing heavily and sweating, so it’s a little dangerous.”
Katherine Phillips visits Lerner several days a week, but said the recent spike in coronavirus cases over the past two weeks worried her, especially when the gym can get crowded. She said she was surprised the University didn’t continue to require reservations for gym use like last year to help control potential overcrowding.
The daily number of coronavirus cases and the University’s positivity rate hit all-time highs earlier this month, with 45 cases and a positivity rate of 2.91%, according to the COVID Testing Dashboard -19 from GW.
“The gym is really small, so I think there will be a risk unless they start to spread things out, but then there wouldn’t be enough equipment for everyone,” he said. she declared. “They don’t really have a good option there, everything is very close to each other.”
Junior Taylor Barr said he felt safe working at Lerner because staff enforce the mask mandate more strictly than in most classrooms as they patrol each floor and immediately tell students to wear mask them when someone takes it off.
“It’s probably better than a classroom honestly,” Barr said. “Because in some classes people have their masks under their noses, but there they have panels to put your mask specifically above your nose. “