Changes made to Recreation and Wellness Center as Vanderbilt downsizes COVID-19 testing

The Vanderbilt COVID-19 testing center has been relocated from the main gym to the auxiliary gym inside of the Rec, which continues to operate at a limited capacity for students.

image+of+sign+outside+the+Rec+that+says+Testing+Center

Truman McDaniel

Testing Center sign outside the Rec, as photographed on Sept. 6, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Truman McDaniel)

Lorenz Chen, Staff Writer

On July 8, the indoor testing site at the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center main gym conducted its final series of COVID-19 tests; since then, operations have shifted to the auxiliary gym. The former testing site administered over 150,000 COVID-19 tests during the Spring 2021 semester but will transition to a fully operational fitness center for the upcoming semester.   

“The large number of vaccinated people among the campus community has resulted in a much lower volume of asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, so the university will shift the center’s operations,” Vanderbilt Communications and Marketing said in a press release on July 7.

As of print, no policy has been announced for Fall 2021 asymptomatic testing. The university is expected to make a final decision on testing as the upcoming semester draws closer, per the university’s Health and Safety protocols website.  

“Faculty, staff and postdocs in the summer testing program will continue to participate through July 31,” the press release read. “Students in the summer testing program will continue until each school’s/program’s vaccination deadline.” 

Reconfiguration of the testing center was finished on July 12, with the new center open for testing Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT. Per the university’s press release, members of the Vanderbilt community who wish to access the testing center should park at Lot 102 and enter through the large doors towards the back of the Rec. 

The changes to the testing center come as the Rec proceeds through a gradual reopening plan. Currently, the Rec operates at limited capacity with limited hours. Facilities are only available to active students enrolled in a Summer 2021 online course and Vanderbilt faculty, staff, postdocs and undergraduates who purchase a monthly Rec subscription for $20.

Our goal is to continue in our progress towards a full reopening in a timely and, most importantly, safely manner,” Director of the Rec Kenny Moore said in an email to The Hustler. “In time, we hope to have all our programs return back to full capacity.”

As part of the gradual reopening plan, visitors are now able to enter the Rec through the main entrance without a reservation. Students are also able to access indoor fitness facilities, equipment and locker rooms. 

a sign reads "do not enter" in the Rec
Signage located in front of stairs leading to the second floor of the Rec. (Hustler Staff/Lorenz Chen)

The entrances to the second floor loft of the Rec are marked by signs that read, “Vandy Rec Personnel Only, Do Not Enter.” The 4,500-square-foot second floor loft, which includes a second fitness center with various cardio equipment, remains closed to students. According to Moore, these areas are expected to reopen in the future, and students should continue to check the Rec’s website for the most current updates.

Per the Rec’s health and safety protocols, there are no requirements for masking or social distancing for vaccinated individuals in the facility. The Rec still has disinfecting stations positioned throughout the building to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

I encourage those students that are still hesitant to walk back towards comfort in the Rec at their pace while knowing we are there to walk with them,” Moore said. “Students can absolutely continue to follow social distancing measures e.g. wearing a mask, etc. Further, I welcome students to come just walk the facility and/or email me for a tour.”

gym equipment in the Rec
Indoor equipment in the Rec. (Hustler Staff/Lorenz Chen) (Lorenz Chen)

However, students may not always have the option of social distancing when in the facility. For example, the indoor equipment is positioned in a way such that social distancing is not possible.

Moore stated that the health and safety of the Vanderbilt community is still the Rec’s highest priority.

“We, like the student body, are doing our part as a Vanderbilt community member,” Moore said. “In the event of COVID-19 concerns, we would follow the University’s leadership just the same as the Vanderbilt community.”