As COVID-19 has forced the postponement of multiple games in the WCC, UP Athletics has been playing under more robust health protocols.
Athletics is following NCAA COVID-management guidelines that are stricter than UP’s general COVID-19 protocols. The rules aid to the comfort and safety of many athletes and coaches.
“I thought our training room was really on top of it,” Head Women’s Track/XC coach Ian Solof said.
After a month of winter break, each athlete was required to take two antigen tests two days apart after arriving back to campus, regardless of their vaccination status.
Athletes signed up for their time slots when they arrived, and the athletic training staff handed out their tests. These testing protocols apply to all athletes, coaches and staff even if they are not currently in season.
Vaccinated athletes are monitored based upon symptoms. They are not required to test unless symptomatic. If an athlete has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and they are boosted, they monitor their symptoms. If an athlete is only vaccinated and has not received the booster they must quarantine, and monitor their symptoms.
According to Assistant Athletic Trainer Miho Arai, unvaccinated athletes get the most scrutiny, and get more than the quick antigen tests.
“Unvaccinated students are doing surveillance testing, PCR testing once a week,” Arai said. “If they have a competition it's based off what that competition requires, so it can be be a PCR within 72 hours or an antigen test within 24 hours of the competition.”
If an athlete tests positive for COVID-19, they are notified on the phone by an athletic trainer. The staff makes accommodations for athletes who have tested positive.
“Once I let them know that they are going into isolation, I notify Karina so that she can talk to housing and to campus on where the athletes gonna go,” Arai said.
Karina Handeland is the Senior Associate Athletic Director, and the administrator for COVID-19 policy within the Athletic Department.
Once in isolation, students can choose to have food delivered from the school. If they choose to opt out of the school's delivery, they can have another athlete or friend drop them off food at their door.
Athletics has also mandated masks throughout their facilities — similar to the rest of campus. All athletes, coaches and staff are required to wear their masks unless actively working out in the weight room or during practices.
Veerle Bakker, a distance Women’s Track and Field runner, finds comfort in the safety protocols that the Athletic program has implemented.
“Especially how the teams are separated, I feel like when another team has an outbreak it doesn’t affect other teams,” Bakker said.
Head Coach Ian Solof knows that the team needs to be ready for anything.
“You got to be open minded and you got to be ready for somebody to test positive, somebody might have to go into isolation. And you know, the rules could change” Solof said. “You got to be prepared for anything.”
Colby Wilson is a Sports Reporter for the Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.