WREC to reopen under limited county guidelines


Alyssa Keating

The WREC will reopen for limited indoor activity on Oct. 19

Chico State’s Wildcat Recreation Center will begin its reopening process on Oct. 19 after Butte County was moved to a lower-risk tier in California’s COVID-19 reopening guidelines. The fitness center, which at one point served thousands of people, will be operating at10% capacity with strict sanitation and social distancing guidelines.

The WREC closed its doors for the first time in March and continued to hold virtual workout and interest sessions throughout the remainder of the spring semester and throughout the summer. In August, the WREC pool opened up for reservations.

“The campus’s paramount goal is student safety and that has been clear from the president (Gayle Hutchinson) since day one,” said Curtis Sicheneder, director of the WREC. “She has not wavered from that and when we put forward our plan to open the WREC at a limited capacity it was with the notion that safety was the number one priority.”

In an effort to limit visits, the WREC will be holding three, 75-minute daily sessions with 90-minute cleaning breaks in between where the WREC will be closed from guests. Prior to these sessions, attendees must sign up for specific workout areas such as the downstairs and upstairs weight rooms, cardio and individual workout spaces, weight machines on the multi-activity court and the climbing wall.

While sessions are in action, guests will be required to wear facial coverings at all times and WREC staff will monitor people entering through three main entry points for face covering compliance.

Upon reopening, showers and public water fountains will not be allowed as well as the participation in contact activities, such as basketball.

The WREC is estimating to serve no more than 96 students per session, hoping to increase capacity to 6 daily sessions and approximately 600 people a day over the duration of the semester as the county continues to mitigate COVID-19 cases.

“We’re going to follow all of the protocols that campus has in place through the student health center in terms of reporting cases when we become aware, we encourage students to report when they become aware too,” Sicheneder said. “I suspect that for any reason, if the WREC adds to a spike in regards to students, we would close in an abundance of caution and that’s why we’re reopening in such a strategic manner.”

Staff at the WREC will include full-time staff at the university and will not prioritize students out of an abundance of caution. 

“Students at the WREC who had jobs in the spring had to be furloughed but out of an abundance of caution, when we are doing this small reopening, we are not involving student employees and that’s to protect as many people as possible,” Sicheneder said.

As of now, the university is not preparing to reopen other buildings on campus until Butte County continues to move up in accordance with California’s reopening guidelines, said Alex Karolyi, Executive director of University Communications.

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kimberlymnews