Photo by Mary Mone
The Ornelas Health and Physical Education Center at Tyler Junior College is closed for recreational purposes for the remainder of the Coronavirus health crisis, but the center is offering instructional and classroom access.
The OHPE was open during the summer with restrictions, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and locker room closures. On Aug. 6, the OHPE issued an email statement saying that effective Aug. 7, it would close all recreational activities. The OHPE is not closing the building as a whole. Heath Stoner, director of the OHPE center and summer camps explained why recreational activities are being shut down.
“Because instruction is the core of our mission at TJC, we take numerous precautions and a certain degree of risk for instruction, but we cannot take the risk for recreational activities during this health crisis,” Stoner said.
The OHPE will be used during the fall semester for classes and faculty offices. People who will be allowed access include those taking classes, athletes who take conditioning classes, the Apache Band and Apache Belles in the gym and faculty members who have their offices inside.
There were already classes located in the building, such as Kinesiology, but because of COVID-19, they have had different classes move in, like band, to accommodate the social distance regulations. Even though there are limited people who are allowed to enter, the OHPE is still included in the cleaning procedure.
Dana Ballard, Director of Campus Services, explained that the cleaning procedure is similar to the other buildings.
“All spaces undergo normal cleaning in the morning and ABM enhanced cleaners frequently wipe hard surfaces, restrooms, etc. around the campus throughout the day. Every evening ABM enhanced cleaners wipe down all classroom spaces, including desks and chairs, all keyboards, offices, and other areas around buildings. Once a week all buildings will be electrostatically sprayed. In addition, sanitizing spray and towels have been provided for certain areas to spray their areas if necessary.”
The OHPE is home to many student workers who were encouraged to apply to other on-campus jobs, but the OHPE will keep them in mind for the future.
“When the recreational side of the OHPE is re-opened, we will reach out to all of our previous student workers” Stoner said.
Though the OHPE is closed for recreation, they are offering activities in the fall to help keep students active outside of the center.
“The OHPE is planning on offering intramurals in the fall like corn hole, kan jam, E-Sports, etc. In addition, a bicycle path is currently under construction in the, “Eastern Frontier,” Stoner said.
The new bike path is a project that has been under construction for two years. KLTV posted an article on Jan. 27 about the bike path and according to the City of Tyler, “the City Council approved a Sponsored Research Agreement with UT Tyler in the amount of $186,469 for the engineering and project design in May 2018 of a federal grant.”
The article also mentioned the University of Texas at Tyler designed the project to provide bike lanes throughout to connect colleges throughout the city of Tyler.