Students fail to follow COVID-19 guidelines, risk PEIF closure


Peter Smedley/NW CLOSE CALLS— Students who continue to fail in meeting COVID-19 guidelines at the PEIF risk suspension from the facility for the rest of the semester, and potentially the year. With the U.K strain now in the U.P it is important to continue to maintain protocols.

Nate Jacobs

In response to a number of students not complying with the mask mandate at the Physical Education Instructional Facility, President Fritz Erickson has cautioned students that the university will have to shut down the facility if there is not a change in behavior. 

Erickson issued the statement in an email to NMU students and faculty Wednesday, March 10. 

“I’m concerned about the number of PEIF suspensions due to non-mask compliance,” Erickson said. “This has got to stop or we’ll have to shut down the PEIF again.”

Erickson has been concerned with the recent uptick of positive cases for both on and off campus students, but does not want to take away privileges from those adhering to the policies.  According to the president, first time offenders can be suspended from the PEIF for a week, and repeat offenders can have their membership revoked for the remainder of the year. 

The PEIF has currently suspended approximately 13 students since the reopening of the recreation center this winter semester. Most of the suspensions deal with members not wearing the mask correctly over the entirety of their mouth and nose. 

Haley Rhoades, the assistant dean of students, elaborated on the discipline following a non-mask compliant student. The typical discipline from the Dean of Students Office is a 12 week probation, Rhoades said. 

However, the situations are considered on a case-by-case basis and repeat offenders can find themselves with longer or more serious discipline, Rhoades said. 

In regards to the PEIF, the first violation of non-mask compliance results in a week-long suspension from the PEIF and Fit Zone, according to the Associate Director of Campus Recreation, Tricia Bush. 

“For second offenses there would be a suspension for the remainder of the semester, or one month for the fall semester,” Bush said. 

Some of the recent changes within the PEIF in response to COVID-19 include a reservation system in order to work out in the gym, said sophomore NMU Student Recreation Sports Office Worker Bridget Hollen. Students and faculty can register to use the gym using the NMU Rec Sports website previous to working out.

“It is different but maintainable,” Hollen said about the changes that are similar to the protocols throughout campus that include social distancing and the mandatory mask wearing. Masks are required throughout the PEIF, including in the locker rooms and while using the equipment.

Along with the mask mandate, attendants are required to wipe down the equipment they use both before and after use. PEIF employees also continuously sanitize equipment throughout the day, Hollen said. 

According to the website on COVID-19 and mask mandates, “Gatherings for group fitness activities or classes are permitted, provided that all persons maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others at all times and wear a face mask at all times.”

The state also mandates that gatherings do not exceed 30% of the total occupancy limits established by the state or local fire marshals. 

The final call of whether or not the PEIF closes for the remainder of the year is in the hands of Erickson as well as the Safety Committee, according to Bush, who regularly meets with the committee to discuss the campus recreation facilities and programs. There is no “magic number” of non-mask reports to influence the decision, Bush said.

Michigan’s mask and workplace guidelines change regularly, for the most recent and up-to-date guidelines visit the State’s website on Labor and Economic Opportunity.