By: Grant Cragg
The Department of Athletics and the University Implementation Team have designed a plan to mitigate COVID-19 risks and make competition possible for all student-athletes and spectators.
Now that the vaccine is available to all and most student-athletes have been vaccinated, the University has reevaluated the testing protocol for varsity athletes. According to Assistant Athletic Director Caitlin Moore, vaccinated student-athletes are not required to test weekly. Students who are unvaccinated are required to test one time per week and will be tested within twenty-four hours prior to competition.
“The university has accounted for about five percent of varsity athletes that have not received the vaccine,” said head athletic trainer Beth Druvenga.
UMW has set guidelines if a team member tests positive for COVID.
“All unvaccinated individuals and coaches/staff/managers will likely be required to quarantine,” said Moore. “Fully vaccinated student-athletes will be required to test three to five days from exposure. While being masked during practices, competition and strength and conditioning sessions. Once all vaccinated team members have a negative test they may resume as normal.”
As for spectators watching their fellow Eagles, outdoor games will be open to the public. For indoor sporting games, visitors will be expected to wear masks. Athletic events will also be live-streamed through the UMW athletics website.
Visiting teams are able to request the use of locker rooms in UMW facilities, but they must fgollow the university’s masking requirements. During competitions, visiting athletes and coaches are not required to wear masks.
Last year, the UMW athletic training services implemented guidelines for student-athletes and visitors in the training room. These rules have carried over for the current academic year. Student-athletes are required to make appointments when needing treatment and must be masked at all times when in the athletic training room.
The capacity within the training room has been increased to 15 without social distancing requirements, and the varsity weight room is available to all teams this year. The decision for masking depends on the preferences of each coach. However, if multiple sports teams are in the weight room at one time, all athletes must be masked.
Druvenga said that the change in the training room capacity will benefit student-athletes.
“We are actually able to have more people in our facility this year than we were last year, which is nicer so we can treat more student-athletes,” she said.
Kenny Kurtz, a senior on the men’s soccer team, is excited to have a more normal season.
“This 2021/2022 season so far has felt back to normal in a lot of ways,” he said. “Being able to get back out onto the field and compete this year definitely helps make things feel normal again. Participating in an outdoor sport definitely has its perks since we are able to practice without our masks now.”
Druvenga is looking forward to bringing fall and winter athletics back on the home field and courts.
“I’m excited that we are having fall and winter competition this year, I think it is great that we got to have spring sports last year, but our fall and winter teams really missed out so I’m excited to get them back on the field,” said Druvenga.