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Working Out and Eating In on Campus During a Pandemic

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

By Isabel Pulgarin

As the pandemic continues at large, Barry administrators continue to implement new adaptations to keep on-campus students and staff safe. Still, they are maintaining a sense of normalcy for the Spring semester through the guidance of the COVID-19 task force.

BU Student James Bradshaw at Bucky's Cove. Photo Credit to Melissa Tumbeiro.

One of these adaptations was the closure of the inside of the fitness center. In January, coordinator of health promotions and wellness at Barry, Daniel Hill, was informed by Barry’s COVID-19 task force that the fitness center needed to remain closed for two weeks prior to the start of the Spring semester. This was an effort to prevent any on-campus spike in COVID-19 cases, as students were just returning from winter break.

When the task force later postponed the reopening of the fitness center, Hill set up an outdoor gym. However, he was concerned with the small outdoor quarters, due to social distancing requirements, and lighting for students who work out after sunset. As a result, the outdoor fitness center closed at 5 p.m., instead of 9 p.m., during the weekdays.

Isabella Tusa, a freshman soccer player majoring in television and digital media, used to work out regularly in the fitness center, but felt uneasy with these changes.

“You take [the equipment] from inside and move it outside, but it is concrete and really small,” said Tusa. “We’re close to other people, so I don’t really feel comfortable working out.”

While accommodating social-distancing, Tusa believed only five people could work out at a time on the concrete platform. This is compared to the indoor capacity of 20 people last semester. Before the pandemic, the maximum capacity of the indoor gym was 80 people.

As a soccer player, however, Tusa has access to a workout tent set up outside for athletes. She no longer has to go to the fitness center.

To accommodate students who cannot use athletic tents, Hill created alternative outside activities. On Feb. 10, he held his first boot camp class near the soccer field. The class consisted of military-style conditioning, including squats, push-ups, and sprints.

He and his team are still deciding on appropriate times to hold more outdoor fitness classes. They plan to collect feedback from on-campus students to guide this decision.

However, after two months closed, the indoor fitness center reopened on Feb. 15. The gym will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, with no information yet about weekend operations. Social distancing is required and only 20 people will be allowed inside at once, in 40-minute workout increments. Every two and a half hours, the equipment will be thoroughly cleaned.

Another adaptation the university made was to dining services. Bucky’s Cove has been closed since the Fall 2020 semester. Eateries in Thompson Hall and the Roussell Dining Hall are take-out only.

BU Student James Bradshaw at Bucky's Cove. Photo Credit to Melissa Tumbeiro.

Mike Alkurdi, the senior director of Chartwells, which is the approved food vendor for Barry, notes that these closures were based on how often students ate from these locations during the pandemic.

“Bucky’s Cove, BucStop Café and Wiegand Hall Café were open in Fall 2020 and saw very little traffic and it was determined that resources were best dedicated to the facilities students prefer to utilize during the pandemic,” Alkurdi said.

Students on campus agree. They saw few students at Bucky’s Cove, BucStop Café, and Wiegand Hall Café before the closures, as most students go to Roussell Dining Hall or Union Market for food.

Freshman advertising and public relations student, Willima Nyugen, notes that the difference in demand could be because “there aren’t really any people on campus.”

Administrators at Barry are working hard with the COVID-19 task force to continue their efforts to maintain a safe campus for the sake of students, faculty, and staff.

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