The Green Lake City Hall Gym will reopen for recreational use, however, those using the gym must follow safety guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Common Council voted 5-1 Monday to reopen the gym with Ald. Liane Walsh casting the lone vote in opposition.
That vote allows student groups to use the gym as long as they sanitize their hands, undergo temperature checks before entering the facility, bring their own balls, wipe them down, keep a log of who is using the gym as well as follow other public health guidelines for masking and social distancing already in place at City Hall.
Additionally, coaches or adult supervisors will be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing the gym after recreational use, while the city reserves the right to prohibit groups that violate social distancing guidelines from using the gym.
Ald. Danielle Reysen introduced the proposal to the Common Council after constituents, specifically parents, reached out to her because their children were looking for more recreational opportunities during the winter months.
Reysen noted the group had children in 6th grade, who could not practice at school with 7th and 8th graders, so some children were practicing in a church gym in Princeton.
“With the WIAA [Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association] rules, 6th grade and above can play sports, so what’s happening is that the 5th grade and below are finding their own places to go,” she said. “But the 6th graders are in this wishy washy area [because] they really have nowhere to go.”
She added that the groups that were interested in using the gym are typically all students in the same grade-level who have class together and follow social distancing guidelines throughout the day in school.
During the discussion, Walsh inquired about the current caseload in Green Lake County, to which Green Lake Police Chief Jason Reysen noted the county only had 14 active cases as of Sunday.
“It’s not even 1.6% of the total population is COVID positive right now,” he said. “I also was informed by the health department that this week, we should be getting vaccine for all the health-care workers in the county by the end of this week.”
Ald. Chris Foos, who appeared via Zoom and works as an instructional aide at Green Lake School, also had constituents reach out interested in using the gym for volleyball.
Foos noted sports provide an important opportunity for social interaction and childhood psychological development. He added that social development is “just as important as [students’] academic studies.”
“I like the idea that they are wearing masks, they’re going to practice sanitation, they’re going to be regulated by an adult, [then] they’re going to follow the regulations and the rules,” Foos said. “There are stipulations in place if they don’t, and I think it’s important for the children.”
He added that Green Lake School is currently allowing sports teams to practice and compete and also is allowing students to use the gym for physical education courses while following social distancing guidelines.
While the majority of the Common Council was in support of reopening the gym for recreational use, Walsh was firm in her position that the gym should remain open only to municipal use.
“That doesn’t protect any of us that need to come in here twice a month [and] it doesn’t protect the people in the municipal court who need to use that space, Walsh said of the proposal.