After more than a year of guidelines and regulations in response to the pandemic, Florida A&M University and its faculty are doing their best to give the students a sense of normalcy. A great example of that is the reopening of the university’s recreation center. The all-purpose center, located at 2101 Wahnish Way, experienced sporadic availability during the summer and spring semesters. But with the first week of classes already finished, the facility is ready to reengage and offer its services for those who’ve been wishing for them.
The center is set to open at 11 a.m. Monday. The system in place will mimic a lot of what was done this past year with the rise of the Delta variant. Fonzi Selmour, a member of the rec center staff, shared some of the things students can expect this school year.
“We are going to uphold the same procedures we executed in the past,” Selmour said. “We took the first up rise in the COVID cases very serious, so we are treating this new Delta variant just as cautiously with a couple more methods to keep people safe.”
Students will still have to sign up for an hour-long time frame via the FAMUComeandPlay app in order to maintain a healthy and safe amount of attendance per session. Masks will still be required and long-sleeve attire will still be stressed, as these have shown to slow the rapid spreading of the virus. They will also implement brief periods of no attendance to wipe down all weights, benches and other equipment in-between sessions.
Sensor-activated water fountains have been added along with the auto-fill still accessible so that no touching is required and a new ventilation process in order to circulate “new” air every 30 minutes inside the facility.
“There’s not a lot to do on campus nowadays with COVID rearing its ugly head again,” Selmour said. “I view working out as a stress reliever so I know a lot of kids missed blowing off some steam.”
Students across campus heard about the center’s grand re-opening via social media, with some excited about it and a few still a bit skeptical. Jelani Wheeler, a fourth-year journalism major at FAMU, is excited to get back into the gym but is skeptical about how fast things have reopened across the state and the effect it may have in the future.
“I haven’t been to the rec in about a year and a half, so having the opportunity to work out and play ping-pong again is exuberayting to say the least,” Wheeler said. “I am slightly concerned with our state’s legislation and how they are handling COVID. With [Governor Ron] DeSantis showing little to no regard in protecting the residents, this could cause some very poor long-term effects down the line.”
A good number of students have expressed similar concerns about the reopening of the recreation center, but others are confident they will be able to prevent themselves from contracting the virus. Jeremiah McCollum, a fourth-year journalism major, is just happy to have the facility back up and running. He said he understands that things are not back to “same old, same old.”
“I missed playing basketball with friends and working out,” McCollum said. “With it being closed last year, I know a lot of students are going to be happy. But following protocols and guidelines is going to be huge in order to keep it open and keep everyone safe.”