After seven-month closure, Parks and Recreation centers to open in limited capacity for drop-in use
photo by: Nick Gerik
After being closed by health orders in March, the Lawrence Parks and Recreation department will soon reopen its facilities for drop-in public use, though with limitations to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Parks and Rec department has been working with the health department and other area recreation departments to create new recommendations, and beginning Monday will open with mask requirements and limited hours, according to a city news release. Assistant Director of Recreation Lee Ice said that after being closed for seven months, the reopening would be slow and methodical.
“We are trying to walk before we run,” Ice said. “We are trying to get comfortable as a staff getting the public back in our facilities.”
Recreation centers were some of the first public buildings to close because of the pandemic, ordered to do so by Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health on March 13. Under previous reopening plans, some programs and classes resumed in mid-June, but the city’s recreation buildings themselves have not been open to the general public since then. The Prairie Park Nature Center has also remained closed.
The department will now operate under the same Smart and Safe Guidelines also used by the school district, which uses a four-color chart of different risk levels based on the 14-day-rolling-average of positive tests and new cases, according to the guidelines. The risk level is updated each Thursday. The current risk level is yellow, which requires social distancing guidelines to be followed and for everyone to wear a mask at all times, except when in the pool at the Indoor Aquatic Center.
The health department’s guidelines state that at this time, the risk of becoming infected during sports‐ or recreation‐related activities cannot be reduced to zero, but that the department is relying on proven mitigation strategies to reduce these risks. That includes proper mask technique, adequate physical distancing, frequent hand hygiene, routine cleaning/disinfection and keeping people home when they’re ill. The guidelines state that consideration should be given to the health conditions of the participant and any household members that may be at increased risk for severe disease.
“Each person must also decide whether participation is appropriate for their individual situation,” the guideline state. “The risks and benefits are not the same for everyone.”
The recreation centers include gyms, gymnastic areas, game rooms, weight rooms, cardio equipment, room rentals, and, in the case of Sports Pavilion Lawrence, an indoor walking track and turf soccer field. Under the current guidelines, game rooms will remain closed, high-risk activities such as pick-up soccer and basketball are not allowed, and indoor facilities cannot host games or practices for high-risk sports. The Indoor Aquatic Center will continue to only be open for lap swimming and water workouts, with the children’s’ area remaining closed.
Touchless temperature checks will be available for everyone entering a facility, according to the release. Sports Pavilion Lawrence will use keycards for entry, while all other facilities will have sign-in sheets, requiring name and phone number for any contact tracing that may need to occur. Ice said the department is in the process of adding free keycards to the other recreation centers this fall.
In addition to those safety precautions, buildings will also have limited hours, with no evening or weekend hours at the recreation centers. Ice said the schedule takes into account existing class schedules and patterns of use, and is intended to prevent the recreation centers from becoming too crowded.
“It’s not going to meet the needs of everybody yet,” Ice said, noting that the building hours will be evaluated and adjusted as time goes on. “What we are concerned with is that we aren’t part of the spread.”
Ice said building hours would be reevaluated in November, and again ahead of the winter months, when more people typically use the recreation centers.
The building hours beginning Monday
10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
East Lawrence Recreation Center
Noon – 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
Holcom Park Recreation Center
Noon – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday
Sports Pavilion Lawrence
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monday-Friday
Registration – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday
Prairie Park Nature Center
9 a.m. – Noon Tuesday- Friday
1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Limited visitors will be welcome at Prairie Park Nature Center. Animals will not be made available for touching. Visitors will be limited to 15 people in the building at a time and may be limited to a 30-minute time limit.
Indoor Aquatic Center
6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday
1-6 p.m. Sunday
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monday-Friday
Registration 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday