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Recap: Navigating the Pandemic Part 4 — Community Rec COVID-19 Roundtable


On June 25, Community Rec Magazine presented a virtual roundtable that addresses reopening after the COVID-19 crisis, and the drastic operational changes happening across the industry.

The panelists were Jennifer Harrington, the assistant executive director at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center in Portland, Oregon; Matt Hancock, the COO of the YMCA of Greater Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Robin Brothers, the director of Fort Payne Parks and Recreation in Fort Payne, Alabama.

The following is a summary of the top takeaways from the roundtable, including best reopening practices and more:

First Impressions of Reopening

  • Having members sign up for 45 to 60-minute time slots to be allowed in, and using equipment and participating in classes is an effective way to control the number of people in the building.
  • Due to state mandates, many organizations’ pools and aquatics amenities are still closed.
  • Some facilities are limiting group class sizes to one person per 1,000 square feet.
  • Using basketball courts and other big spaces is a safe option for youth programming and/or child care.


  • The senior population could struggle with using technology to make reservations.
  • Social distancing and wearing masks could hinder staff members’ ability to develop relationships when a facility first reopens.
  • Moving group classes to a different location in the building or to a full virtual format could cause some logistical problems — lighting, sound, etc.
  • In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, keep staff morale high can be difficult.

Adapting to the “New Normal”

  • In-person meetings and time to hang out — with masks, of course — are important for getting staff members used to being back in the building and new ways of operating.
  • Staff members will have to do tasks outside their job description due to lower numbers.
  • Have staff members of all levels involved in the decision-making process during reopening — all feedback is important.

Wearing Masks

  • Follow state guidelines and keep your staff’s safety in mind when deciding whether or not to require staff members to wear masks at all times — this is up to the discretion of each facility.
  • Depending on how hot the weather is around you, be lenient with staff wearing masks when outside.
  • In many cases, members are recommended, not required, to wear masks. However, follow state mandates if masks are required when out in public.

Cleanliness Practices

  • Leave personal cleaning supplies — wipes, spray bottles and hand sanitizer — out so members can clean off their equipment, and put up clear signage that shows where these supplies are.
  • Visibility while cleaning is paramount to making members feel safe.
  • Electrostatic cleaning is an extremely effective option for cleaning your facility.

Responding to Negative Feedback

  • Document state and CDC mandates on signage throughout the facility, where it’s relevant, to help members understand why certain decisions are being made.
  • Make sure the right staff members are fielding certain complaints or comments.
  • Be understanding and have a genuine conversation with a member who has a complaint.


To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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