Community centers restrict locker rooms under JoCo pandemic order

With Johnson County’s latest pandemic order in effect as of Monday, some community centers in the northern half of the county have enacted more health and safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Others with fairly restrictive measures already in place are staying the course. Above, the Merriam Community Center's indoor track. File photo.

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With Johnson County’s latest pandemic order in effect as of Monday, some community centers in the northern half of the county have enacted more health and safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Others with fairly restrictive measures already in place are staying the course.

Considered in the same categories as fitness centers and health clubs, community centers are among the list of organizations exempt from the mass gathering limit of 50 people, per Johnson County’s new order.

Here’s a look at approaches by some community centers and what visitors and members should know:

Lenexa Rec Center — Lenexa

Locker rooms and showers are closed until further notice. However, restrooms and small day lockers are still accessible. Rentals for birthday parties are also no longer available.

Organized play for basketball in the second-floor gym will no longer be allowed, and only three people are allowed per hoop.

Rec center staff require that patrons maintain physical distancing and wear a face mask when not actively participating in an activity. The indoor pool will remain open, but patrons must come prepared to swim and leave without using locker room changing areas or showers.

Additionally, face masks and physical distancing are still required on the pool deck. Face masks are prohibited while in the water.

Rec center staff ask patrons to continue maintaining their own personal responsibility to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. This includes:

  • Staying at home when feeling sick or being exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Wearing a face mask over the mouth and nose (people age 6 and older) when entering the facility and moving about the non-workout areas
  • Washing hands thoroughly and often
  • Maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others

Merriam Community Center

The Merriam Community Center has closed the indoor pool through Jan. 31. Jenna Gant, communications and public engagement manager, noted that the decision to close the pool is because county health codes require access to showers before entering and after exiting a pool.

Patrons are required to wear a face mask inside the community center unless they are actively on a piece of equipment or participating in a fitness class. They must also wear a mask on the walking/running track.

The community center also canceled all events that have more than 50 people, including Christmas in the Courtyard on Dec. 4, and Donuts with Santa on Dec. 5.

Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center — Mission

The Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center in Mission has closed the men’s and women’s locker rooms.

Penn Almoney, parks and recreation director, said the indoor pool will remain open, but staff is requesting patrons and visitors to shower at home prior to swimming.

Almoney noted that the center’s event space capacity restrictions are lower than the county’s recommendations. Capacity on room use is 50% of each room’s fire code occupancy limit, or room square footage divided by 36 square feet — which is less.

“We continue to take reservations for court and lap lane use which helps us safeguard the social distancing protocols,” Almoney added.

Masks are still required to be worn throughout the community center, but they may be removed during strenuous exercise.

Matt Ross Community Center and Tomahawk Ridge Community Center — Overland Park

Overland Park has restricted locker rooms and showers at both the Matt Ross and Tomahawk Ridge community centers to remain in compliance with the county’s directive. Indoor courts and pools are also closed.

Sean Reilly, communications manager, said the restrooms in the locker rooms are still accessible.

“According to Johnson County’s order, fitness centers and health clubs are exempt, but, since the initial communitywide restrictions due to COVID, attendance at our city community centers has not come close to returning to pre-COVID levels,” Reilly said.

City staff spaced spaced apart all equipment at a minimum distance of 6 feet for users’ health.

Rentals are also capped at a single room for each facility — this applies to both of these community centers, which had multiple rooms for rent before the pandemic. The maximum capacity is 44 people for any event.

Roeland Park Community Center

No significant changes are in effect at the Roeland Park Community Center.

Jennifer Jones-Lacy, assistant city administrator, said the only update is that gatherings are restricted to 50 people, or 50% of the capacity of the room, whichever is less.

Masks and physical distancing are still required.

Shawnee Civic Centre — Shawnee

No changes are in effect for the Shawnee Civic Centre. Tonya Lecuru, deputy director of parks and recreation, said the new county restrictions do not change anything for the facility.

Capacity restrictions are capped at 45 people per room. Shawnee city staff still requires face masks in all areas of the facility.