Wellness Center to reopen pool, allow court use


Mara Wheaton, Reporter (She/her)

As the new semester began at South Dakota State University, so did changes to the Miller Wellness Center, including a new face covering policy and intramurals.

Back in August, Pres. Barry Dunn made the decision that all individuals are required to wear a face covering while in the Wellness Center. This semester, it was added to this policy that people are also required to wear them while resting between exercises.

“Aug. 1, President Dunn said everyone is wearing masks, we had a struggle of having to fight for taking (facemasks) off when exerting yourselves, but we did some research and we felt pretty confident about that,” Shari Landmark, director of recreation and fitness at the Wellness Center, said.

Making sure to enforce this new policy, staff members give intercom announcements every 30 minutes to remind users to keep their masks on. However, some staff members do not agree with the new mask policy.

“It makes sense to let us not wear them when we are actually working out, but when we aren’t working out, having to wear them doesn’t really seem like it would make a difference,” a Wellness Center employee who wishes to remain anonymous said. “Seems pointless if we we’re working out and heavy breathing without them.”

Students should be advised that continuously disregarding the face coving policy will result in a seven-day suspension from the facility.

Already this semester, five students have been suspended, along with one SDSU faculty member.

“We do a pretty good job of trying to, and I hate to say the word but, police it and make sure people wear them,” Landmark said. “It’s not even students, I have a couple of faculty and staff that we constantly have to remind to put [on] their face covering.”

Landmark is excited to announce that the pool, which has been closed since October, is on track to reopen soon for the public.

“We have a lot of people who utilize our pool since there really isn’t another pool in town,” she said. “That is supposed to be filled [the week of Jan. 25] and … hopefully it will be up and running by Feb. 15.”

Although people do not need to wear a mask in the pool, it is required to wear one until you arrive at your swimming location.

Those who frequented the Wellness Center last semester would be aware that for the last couple of months, court one housed a majority of the cardio equipment to maintain social distancing.

Now, courts one through three are open for students to resume recreational sports such as basketball.

Attendance these last couple of months have been at a low considering the amount of space available due to social distancing.

Landmark and the Wellness Center staff are hoping that the reopening of the courts will increase the attendance rates.

“I am glad the Wellness Center is allowing more activities this semester, because I believe many people didn’t come because of the new rules,” Jaedyn Finkbeiner, sophomore business economics major, said. “I did a lot of home workouts because I did not like the social distancing in the workout space. Sometimes it is hard to find a space because there is a small number to allow social distancing.”

Intramural basketball is resuming Tuesdays through Thursdays with a limited capacity.

According to Courtney Berntsen, coordinator of competitive sports and camps, the number of teams participating is limited to 72, but have completely filled up already.

Teams are limited to eight or nine participants, but only seven members are allowed to show up to each game.

A precaution that is being implemented this semester is that no spectators are allowed, in order to maintain social distancing on and around the courts.

The tallest amenity at the Wellness Center is the 35-foot rock climbing wall, which is open seven days a week with limited hours. The user numbers have increased from eight climbers per 50 minutes to 14 climbers.

The Wellness Center is still closed daily from 1-3 p.m. for a deep clean of the entire facility. Employees will also be sanitizing equipment around the facilities during their open hours.

“Hopefully (during the Fall 2021) semester, we will be able to take off our masks and open the group fitness studios back up,” Landmark said. “Respect others – that is the biggest thing I want to convey. And wipe your equipment off, just keep things clean.”