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SRF Reopens With New, COVID-19-Friendly, Guidelines

East Campus Student Recreational Facility:

University of Illinois at Chicago

737 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60607


(312) 413-5150



After closing in March, 2020, due to COVID-19, The University of Illinois’ Student Recreational Facility finally reopened in August, 2020, with some new and improved guidelines. Gyms are one of the highest-risk places for contracting the virus, because of how much physical contact and activity takes place. New cleaning and social distancing regulations are enforced. 

“It’s shocking how different everything is now,” emphasized Rebecca Wellington, a UIC SRF employee. She reports that there are a number of services that are currently closed, including the rock climbing wall, MAC Suite, hot tub, sauna, steam room, express lockers, equipment desk, equipment rentals, gym mats, and more. 

So what is actually open, then? With strict social distancing, mask-wearing, and cleaning regulations, the strength area is available, which is arguably the most popular zone. Two people are allowed in the racketball rooms at a time, with a two hour limit. In addition to this, the leisure and lap pool is available to patrons, but not the inner tubes or towels. Pool chlorine is said to kill contagious bacteria, allowing the pool to stay open. The UIC running track is available as well, with a policy that a mask must be worn at all times, everyone must walk/run in the same direction, and everyone must be spaced apart as much as possible. All sports materials must be supplied by the patrons, as no rentals will be provided.  

Not only are the aforementioned areas of the gym now available, but, as of Wednesday, September 23rd, the basketball courts are now open, too. J. Offren, professional staff at the SRF, notes that “It has been very difficult to enforce only two people per hoop. Patrons are constantly trying to group together for games, while employees are constantly reenforcing social distancing rules.” As long as patrons remember to bring their own basketball and follow the separation and mask-wearing rules, they will be able to enjoy basketball at the SRF once again.

This is exciting news for many, as members have been eager for this day to arrive. Jessica Davis, a third-year student at UIC, who has used the SRF the last few years, is pleased to hear that the facility is back open again. Jessica comments on the availability of the SRF, mentioning the new capacity guidelines that can be found on the SRF website. A live patron count is available, with a specific headcount of each zone of the gym, as well. For example, 9 patrons are allowed in the leisure pool at a time, 80 in the strength zone, 10 patrons on the track, 2 in each racquetball court, and so on. This is also projected live on a large computer screen for patrons to see as they check in. 

“Sometimes there is a line out the door when they can’t let any more people in,” states Davis. “But that doesn’t happen too often.” She tells us that the SRF is the busiest with students on the weekdays, from 5pm to 8pm. The mornings are quieter, and the weekends are slow. So far, things have been running smoothly and patrons are remembering to clean up after themselves with disinfectant wipes. Employees are seen cleaning the machines, free weights, mats, door handles, card swipers, plexiglass dividers, locker rooms, chairs, pens, computers at the desk, and more, every 30 minutes. They use disinfectant spray, wipes, wear gloves, and vacuum the floors. Davis also reports that she notices everyone has been wearing a mask at all times and has been following the rules pretty well. 

Although the Student Recreation Facility requires strict mask, social distancing, and cleaning procedures, it is finally back to being a positive environment for students to better themselves during this pandemic. 


Christina is a Professional Writing major, minoring in Spanish, at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the Senior Editor and President for Her Campus Media, following her passions to one day become an editor as a career.
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