The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

UNC Campus Recreation reduces cleaning schedule

Liz Smith, a UNC senior majoring in English and classics, sprays down equipment after the SRC has closed on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Gym patrons have hand wipes available to wipe down all machines, which Smith says most people use, but the spray is a stronger cleaning solution.
Buy Photos Liz Smith, a UNC senior majoring in English and classics, sprays down equipment after the SRC has closed on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Gym patrons have hand wipes available to wipe down all machines, which Smith says most people use, but the spray is a stronger cleaning solution.

Starting last week, the Student Recreation and the Rams Head Recreation Centers reduced their scheduled cleaning periods in response to patron feedback on limited facility hours. 

The Rams Head Recreation Center and the SRC will be closed for two 30-minute cleaning periods during weekdays and one 30-minute period on weekends, during which staff will use backpack sprayers of disinfectant to sanitize exercise equipment.

“Campus Rec staff will still clean equipment throughout the day as they did during the fall semester, and people using both the Rams Head Recreation Center and the Student Recreation Center will still be encouraged to use disinfecting wipes,” said Campus Recreation Associate Director of Facilities & Operations Reggie Hinton in a statement. “We’re confident this will continue to provide a safe environment for our patrons.” 

During the 2021 fall semester, both UNC recreation centers were closed for a cleaning break every two and a half hours. This process caused each center to be closed for upward of three hours per day — impacting the ability of some students to exercise at convenient times. 

“I go to the SRC three to five times a week at 6 a.m., right when it opens,” philosophy and psychology major Elijah Parish said. “As far as I can tell, the majority of people wipe down their machines after they use them. I know I do. It wouldn’t surprise me if sanitary-conscious behaviors are up too, during the pandemic.”

Some students felt that the fall 2021 cleaning schedule made it difficult to balance their workouts with their class commitments. 

Environmental sciences major Thomas Reinhardt was relieved to hear that the cleaning periods for spring had been drastically reduced.

“Last semester, I used the gym somewhat frequently,” Reinhardt said. “I would run into issues where I'd want to go for an hour, but I'd end class at 2:30 p.m. Since the gym had to close at 3 p.m. to clean, I wouldn't be able to go because I'd have to cut my trip 30 minutes short. With this, there's a lot more flexibility and it allows the gym to fit in your schedule a lot more easily.”

With the cleaning periods reduced this spring, increased responsibility falls on students to clean the equipment they use. 

Students are provided with sanitary wipes they can use to wipe down their machines to maintain a clean and sanitary environment in each building, Student Recreation Operations Supervisor Vanessa Harrison said. 

Hinton said that he decided to reduce the cleaning periods based on patron feedback. 

“Since we have been doing such a good job of that for the past year, I think that’s another reason why we had the schedule changes, so there is more opportunity for students to come to work out,”  Harrison said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages patrons of all gyms to frequently sanitize their hands, socially distance from one another and inoculate themselves against COVID-19. 

“I think that we kind of just wanted to get things back to normal and give students more opportunity to come to the gym,” Harrison said. “I think our reducing the cleaning periods makes it easier for us as employees, and it also puts it on the students to try to clean when they’re working out and make sure they’re pretty proactive about cleaning.” 


A student leaves UNC's Student Recreation Center on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. With the arrival of the new year, UNC Campus Rec announced that they would be reducing the number of gym cleaning periods and that patrons would no longer need to make reservations to use the gyms.


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