On June 1, the YMCA of Greater Birmingham and the Levite Jewish Community Center will reopen their doors to members for the first time since March 16. Each facility will reopen with new measures in place to protect members and staff.
“We’ve been working closely with local health officials and specialists at UAB since the outbreak began,” said Dan Pile, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Birmingham. “For everyone’s safety, we opted to delay reopening. We are eager to be open, but we are more eager for the wellness of our community.”
Within days of closing their doors, both organizations found ways to continue serving the community through emergency child care services for frontline workers, food services and blood drives.
So far, the organizations have provided about 3,200 hours of child care combined. Through its food program, the LJCC has served more than 1,300 meals and provided 500 grocery boxes.
The YMCA’s partnership with American Red Cross has yielded 150 units of blood from blood drives held at its locations.
“One bright spot in this has been the opportunity for collaboration between like-organizations,” Pile said. “The YMCA and the LJCC have complementary missions; we provide similar services to our members and significant outreach to the broader community. We want to share our experiences and best practices and are grateful to learn from the LJCC’s.”
Other community centers already have reopened their doors to members. This week, the Homewood Community Center reopened its fitness center and track, available to members by appointment only.
Hour-long fitness sessions are available for signup 72 hours in advance with a maximum of 20 members allowed in the facility at a time, as well as 10 members on the track. The facility will be cleaned between each session.
Members are required to clean equipment after use and are highly encouraged to wear gloves if they will be using free weights and hand-held equipment. Visitors are also encouraged bring their own water bottles as water fountains are not in operation.
According to LJCC Executive Director Samantha Dubrinsky, the LJCC has been working on its own “responsible reopening” plan since its doors closed in March.
“Implementing a careful, considered approach to reopening is one important way that we’re serving our members,” she said. “We are committed to their safety. A delay provided the time we needed to properly equip our team and adjust our structure and facilities.”
On June 1, members of the LJCC and YMCA will be required to follow certain guidelines that have been put in place following guidance from infectious disease specialists.
Social distancing is required at both locations, and equipment has been reorganized to accommodate at least a six-foot distance between members. Staff members will be required to wear face coverings and have undergone additional training on CDC safety guidelines.
At the YMCA, class sizes will be limited and will require reservations, and the pool will be used for lap swim only, also by appointment.
Both staff and members’ temperatures will be taken upon entry, and members are encouraged to wear face coverings.
At the LJCC, members will need to sign-up to use the facility. All group fitness classes will remain virtual until further notice.
The facility’s newly established “safety ambassadors” will screen members who come on site, following CDC health guidelines. In addition, a customer care line has been created to address member concerns.
“People are talking about what learnings we’ll take with us as things progress into ‘normal,’ and I hope deeper collaboration tops that list for everyone.” Dubrinsky said. “Being open and eager to help others facing similar challenges can only strengthen all of us.”
– Emily Williams