Sioux Falls Parks & Rec working to keep kids safe at “open gym”

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — If your family gets cabin fever, community centers across Sioux Falls are hosting “open gym” during the Thanksgiving break.

Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation never even considered cancelling open gym during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We always wanted to have the community centers open to the public. We have various safety measures in place, not only specific to the holiday schedule, but also just daily when our community centers are open that promotes a fun and safe atmosphere for all individuals,” Recreation Program Coordinator Chad Quissell said.

Staff and patrons are required to wear a mask, in most areas.

“All five community centers are taking the Safer Sioux Falls pledge, so masks are required as people enter and exit the facility and enjoy the game room, the computer lab, various parts. Specific to the gym, masks are not required while they’re actively exercising,” Quissell said.

Karla Baumgartner walks at Morningside Community Center. She doesn’t mind wearing a mask, and enjoys being indoors during the winter months.

“Oh yes, it’s safe, no ice, and it’s warm,” Karla Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner walks multiple days a week and has seen a decline in numbers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sometimes there’d be like 14 or 15 where I walked, and they walked for two hours, now the most I’ve seen is four to five,” Baumgartner said.

Parks & Rec is limiting capacity at each facility to promote social distancing and are prepared to change course if needed.

“We monitor attendance ongoing, we have ongoing conversations throughout the team of what the current situation is with the pandemic, and what we’re seeing inside the community centers as well,” Quissell said.

The community centers are closed on Thanksgiving Day, but open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. They’ll have similar hours during Christmas break.

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