The Sallie Tiernan Field House at Scripps College has finally resumed indoor activities after three weeks of offering limited, outdoor-only workouts amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the consortium.
Until Feb. 7, Scripps students could only access limited equipment available on Tiernan’s outdoor balconies, including dumbbells, stability balls, yoga mats, spin bikes and rowing machines. The pool was also entirely unavailable for use.
The transition to full operations was first announced by Assistant Dean and Director of Tiernan Field House Deborah Gisvold in a Jan. 28 email to Scripps students.
Tiernan’s initial limitations led many students to Claremont McKenna College’s Roberts Pavilion since it was the only fitness center at the 5Cs that had not reduced operational hours. Pomona-Pitzer’s new gym is still under construction, which also caused P-P students to gravitate towards working out at Roberts.
For Sophie Liles SC ’22, Tiernan’s restrictions were particularly frustrating. Swimming has been part of her recovery since she underwent a ligament reconstruction surgery in October.
But she hadn’t been able to swim this semester since Axelrood Pool at Claremont Mckenna College is only available for limited hours and Tiernan’s pool was closed until last week.
“I’ve just been biking a little bit at Roberts, but I would [have] much prefered to be swimming [because] it would be a lot better for my rehabilitation [process],” she said.
Although Liles was glad Tiernan was still open at some capacity, she was frustrated by Scripps’ initial decision to limit Tiernan.
“When they announced that we could go back to indoor dining at 40 percent capacity… I was thinking if it’s safe to eat inside — which [is] the judgment call they’ve made — why isn’t it safe for me to work out in a surgical KN-95 mask?” she said.
Lily Ryan SC ‘24 echoed a similar sentiment in regards to COVID-19 safety. She believed that Tiernan’s initial limitation caused more students to gravitate towards Roberts.
“It’s only indoors [at Roberts], and it’s very crowded,” she said.
Although students like Ryan felt that Roberts seemed overcrowded, Chris Spells, director of recreation and engagement at Roberts, stated otherwise.
“The increased numbers [30 percent from 2019 to fall 2021] did not correlate to additional requests or complaints regarding space and equipment availability within Roberts Pavilion,” he clarified.
Ryan thought having Tiernan closed or limited during the beginning of the semester was detrimental to students’ mental health because it could have been a resource and outlet to students, especially while they were having classes online.
Gisvold said that Scripps has made strategic decisions of what to close on campus, in order to align with LA County Department of Public Health, CDC and OSHA guidelines.
“While we are all very anxious to ‘return to normal’ or pre-pandemic operations, it is important that we take every measure to protect the members of our community, taking their health and safety into consideration when doing so,” Gisvold said.
Tiernan staff have been hosting small-scale outdoor activities throughout the semester, such as soccer, bike rides and cornhole and volleyball tournaments this semester.
“We found that the students who participated in these programs found them enjoyable and would love for us to offer them with more regularity,” Gisvold said. “We will continue to explore this idea leading into the semester, as this may be a preferred option for some students to exercise, de-stress and socialize.”
Since its reopening on Monday, operations at Tiernan have resumed as they were last semester.
In compliance with COVID-19 safety measures, Tiernan has a touchless entryway system, plexiglass barriers at the service desk, capacity limits on each room to maintain eight feet of social distance and a reservation system to maintain those capacity limits.
“I’m really glad Tiernan is open now, I think it’s a bit of a shame it wasn’t open earlier just because the part of the Field House I really liked was the pool,” Liles said. “I think that, as an outdoor activity, that was probably pretty safe from the get-go, and it was a little confusing to me why they allowed indoor dining without masks before they allowed outdoor swimming.”
Ryan echoed this sentiment.
“It’s made my life significantly better because… the pool’s open, also I’m really looking forward to going there for working out just because I know it’ll be less crowded than Roberts was and also I just really enjoy working out at Tiernan because I just feel like it has a very relaxing vibe,” Ryan said.