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Three community recreation industry leaders share their facility’s mask mandate policy and how they are educating their members on it. 

As states face rising coronavirus cases, many community rec facilities are facing a second round of shutdowns or stricter operating restrictions. One of those restrictions is being implementing a mask mandate, which for some facilities are causing their members to not return to the facility.

Below, three industry leaders share their facility’s mask mandate and how they are educating their members on it.

Zane Korytko, the chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Moncton

What is your current mask policy? 

With the recent government announcements, masks are mandatory throughout our facility. Members can only remove their mask if instructed by an instructor, or if doing strenuous exercise.

How have you informed your members about your mask policy?

Newsletter, social media, email and through our website.

How have your members responded to your mask policy?

Members have responded positively. There has been no push back and members are thankful that we are looking out for their wellbeing.

How does your facility deal with members who don’t want to wear a mask?

Unless they have a medical exemption, they must wear a mask or leave the facility.

How can you foster buy-in from your members on mask wearing?

It is a government mask mandate; they can be fined for not wearing a mask.

What advice can you offer to other facilities struggling with members not returning because of masks?

Try not to be confrontational, explain the benefits for all and hope they follow.

Anything else you’d like to add?

There is a big difference between Canadian and American compliance.  Our government has mandated masks, and Canadians are following their guidelines.

 

Denise Day, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine

 

What is your current mask policy?

Anyone older than two must wear a face mask at all times. Cotton masks or those with a cotton layer on the inside, surgical masks or masks with a clear vinyl window are acceptable. Masks with valves, gaiters, bandanas, scarfs or face shields worn alone without a mask are not acceptable. Masks do not need to be worn when in the pool or when showering. However, masks are to be put back on immediately upon exiting the pool or shower. Those participating in an aqua group exercise class should wear a plastic face shield whenever feasible to protect their fellow class members.

Masks can be removed while eating or drinking when a social distance of at least six feet can be maintained. For most outdoor activities at the YMCA when social distancing of at least six feet can be maintained, masks are not required. Outdoor tennis is an exception, as masks are required when playing tennis — whether indoors or outdoors. Additionally, children in YMCA childcare and early learning programs will keep their masks on when outside. As you can see it is very restrictive. One, due to renewed state restrictions from the governor’s office. Two, we have chosen to be as vigilant as possible to keep our staff, members and community as safe as possible.

How have you informed your members about your mask policy?

We have communicated with members regarding the policy in multiple ways. We have our full policy posted on our website and link to it from many of our communications. Additionally, we have informed members via email and social media, as well as posting digital signage and printed materials/signage in our branches. In all communications, we’ve highlighted that we are creating a socially responsible environment that aligns with our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. We have also provided links to a number of good articles about wearing masks while you work out.

How have your members responded to your mask policy?

Overall, most members have been supportive and appreciate the efforts we are undertaking to keep everyone safe and healthy. We’ve certainly had some vocal members who are not happy with the policy. Some have canceled or put their membership on hold. We’ve shared options they have such as our virtual offerings if they don’t want to exercise with a mask in our branches. However, we believe the number of members asking for strict policy adherence has outnumbered the ones not wanting to wear a mask.

How does your facility deal with members who don’t want to wear a mask?

Failure to comply to the mask mandate is not an option. We deny entry to those who won’t wear a mask. If a member does not like the policy, they are not to take it out on our staff. We’ve made it clear that abuse to our staff will not be tolerated. If they enter any of our facilities without a mask, we provide them with one.

How can you foster buy-in from your members on mask wearing?

Our staff models our policy and always wear their masks. We continually emphasize that we are all part of a community and must protect one another so that the Y can remain open and continue providing the services that are so critical to our community. These include providing food to those in need, running blood drives to address a nationwide shortage, offering childcare for working parents and providing a safe place where everyone in our community can stay active, healthy and connected. Most importantly, we need to show we care about others.

What advice can you offer to other facilities struggling with members not returning because of masks?

Stay the course. Wearing masks saves lives. Even when our most vocal proponents express their dislike of the policy, we have stayed the course. We want to take every effort to keep people safe. In the end, we’d rather be known as the organization that implemented tight measures to keep everyone healthy than the opposite. We want to be the example of how a responsible business operates in this environment.  A reputation for being clean, safe, and keeping people healthy is a good one.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Many members are thanking our staff and taking the time to write us letters about how appreciative they are of our efforts to keep them safe. They want to keep working out and feel confident they are not putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. If you leave ambiguity in your policy you are making the job tougher on staff to enforce, creating opportunities for member conflicts, and of course you increase the likelihood that someone may get sick. Do the right thing for everyone.

 

Jay Rist, the CEO of the YMCA of Southern West Virginia 

 

What is your current mask policy? 

Masks are required to enter the YMCA and move about the building. Members may remove their masks to workout unless our state mask mandate changes to require masks at all times indoors.

How have you informed your members about your mask policy? 

We have informed our members via social media, media partners, online resources, on-site signage and reminders at check-in.

How have your members responded to your mask policy?

We were very lucky, because we opened later than allowed due to renovations done while we were closed. By the time our Y began to operate again, everyone was pretty well conditioned to have their masks on. I can say it has been a very positive response.

How does your facility deal with members who don’t want to wear a mask? 

As Patrick Swayze’s character, Dalton, instructed the bouncers at the Double Deuce in the movie classic Road House – “Be nice.” We politely ask them to wear their masks and remind them that it not only helps stop the spread, it allows our Y to remain open and functioning.

How can you foster buy-in from your members on mask wearing? 

Obviously, the common message is for health reasons, but the biggest thing we do to foster buy-in is to remind our members of the good work the Y is doing in our community, whether it’s offering childcare, before and after school, feeding programs, group exercise classes, etc., and that that positive impact during the pandemic would not be there if we’re shut down due to non-compliance of mandates or a case of COVID-19 is linked to our facility.

What advice can you offer to other facilities struggling with members not returning because of masks? 

Patience is key. Stay the course with implementing your safety protocols in your facility and conveying them to your current membership base. Strategize how you can promote the wearing of masks as a positive to your community and how it correlates with being a part of your organization.

 

 

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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