After students had to register for places in advance last spring, Payne Whitney High School no longer needs reservations this semester, but is only open to fully vaccinated Yale students, faculty and staff.
Melanie Heller 9:54 p.m., August 31, 2021
Jessie Cheung, employed photographer
Starting Monday August 30th, students who wish to run, lift or swim at Payne Whitney High School in Yale will no longer need to pre-book their workouts – as long as they are vaccinated and masked.
Last spring, students had to register for a time slot to train in the cardio or strength area of the Israel Fitness Center and swim laps in the pool on the third floor. But with almost all of Yale’s student body fully vaccinated – 98 percent, according to the university’s published data Tuesday night – the gym’s reservation system is no longer in effect. Many of the other facilities in the 14-story space, such as the basketball courts at the Lanman Center, will reopen after being closed for 18 months.
According to the restrictions listed on the gym’s website, the facility will only be open to fully vaccinated Yale students, faculty, and staff. It is still compulsory to wear a mask, unless people swim, drink or shower.
“Reactivate as Yale faculty and staff [Payne Whitney] Memberships, we’ll be checking vaccination records on site to make sure they’re fully vaccinated, ”Ryan Hagen, deputy sports director of Payne Whitney High School and Campus Recreation, emailed the News.
All recreation rooms – including the Israel Fitness Center, Lanman Center, the pool on the third floor, and the activity rooms and studios on the fifth, sixth and eighth floors – will be open by September 7th. Several of these rooms were open through a reservation-based system this summer and are now staying open. However, Payne Whitney’s website states that the Brady Squash Center will be closed until at least October 1st. While the towel service will be discontinued this fall, changing rooms and lockers will be available from September 7th.
Since vaccination is required to enter, anyone can participate in all activities, including contact games such as basketball. During much of the pandemic, the multi-purpose Lanman Center was used as a field hospital and vaccine clinic. Now there is space again to store tires.
Hagen, who joined Yale Athletics last July after having worked at the University of New Haven since 2013, said his department’s challenge remains “to bring wellness opportunities to our community while keeping public health at the forefront of decision-making to deliver”. Anthony Diaz, who was previously Senior Associate Athletic Director of Administration and Physical Education at Payne Whitney High School, retired in August.
Hagen said that last spring, pool and weight training reservations usually reached capacity, while cardio reservations were typically only about 60 percent full. Students can easily run outdoors, he noted, while swimming and weight training require access to specialized equipment. With only 15 students per hour allowed per hour, gym reservations often had to be made several days in advance.
“It was hard [in the spring] getting an appointment and it’s inconvenient to have one planned this far out, ”Rachel Blatt ’23 told the News.
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, high schools may also be reopened this semester. According to Yale Environmental Health and Safety, both vaccinated and unvaccinated students can exercise in their residential colleges, but only vaccinated students can play contact activities. Ninety-eight percent of undergraduate students are vaccinated.
Residential college gyms allow students to exercise without a face covering when they are alone in the facility, but Yale rules state that masks must be worn when someone is in the gym. If multiple people are present, students must be 6 feet apart. With more practice opportunities on campus, Yale students benefit from new flexibility.
“I’ll definitely be exercising more in my college gym because it’s closer and more convenient than walking to Payne Whitney,” said Silliman’s College Leaf.
Please visit the Yales Sports and Recreation website and Instagram for more information and updates.