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OHPE to stay closed for recreation through spring semester

By Mary Mone
Online and Copy Editor

Photo by Victoria Deal

Initially closed for recreational use in August 2020, the Ornelas Health and Physical Education Center at Tyler Junior College will continue to hold closures in place for the remainder of COVID-19.
Heath Stoner, director of the OHPE, commented on the procedures that are being implemented and upheld throughout the semester.
“This spring will follow exactly what was offered last fall. There are still academic courses offered in the OHPE as well as the Dance Academy,” Stoner said.
Dr. Tim Drain, associate vice provost for student affairs, spoke about how the building was used last semester.
“The building was still used for academic classes, Dance Academy and intramurals. It was also used by the Apache Band and Apache Belles,” Drain said.
The OHPE hoped to reach certain goals by shutting down the recreational side. “One of the main goals was to try to minimize the risks of spreading COVID in order to give our college the best odds to offer and retain as many face-to-face courses on our campus,” Drain said.
The OHPE exhibits options for working out, including weights, a track, a gym and a pool. Many of these areas and equiptment have been used for classes, but according to Drain, the pool is only used when athletes need rehabilitation from an injury.
Although many students could be displeased with the OHPE’s restrictions on recreation, Stoner and the OHPE “did a lot of listening to our students,” Drain said. “Heath and his staff also tried to point students toward other opportunities that were available in student life and intramurals.”
Carol Hutson, executive director of business services, spoke about the technical fees that go into the building. Free for students, the OHPE receives its funds from the Student Service Fee Advisory Committee, which “allocates the funds to various campus events and organizations,” Hutson said.
According to Huston, none of TJC students’ tuition and fees are designated to specifically support or provide access to the OHPE. They are not specifically set aside for that because the OHPE is a general use building, along with others such as the Rogers Student Center.

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