Let’s say that you test positive for COVID-19. You have to quarantine for 10 days and do virtual school. When you come back to school, you have a basketball game the next day. Because of guidelines, you are not allowed to play. Why is that?
This year, student-athletes have had to deal with both school COVID guidelines and sports COVID guidelines. Since the protocols are not the same, some parents and students have experienced confusion. COVID has not been an easy thing to handle or deal with, so Westminster has had to work very hard.
Some of the confusion has come from the health departments about the difference between sports and school protocols. “There is a difference between the return to school and return to sport lengths of time,” says Athletics Director Tim Downes. “They both were 14 days until mid-December when the CDC shortened the quarantine time of close contacts, but the GA Department of Health kept the full return to sport to 14 days with a modification.” There was also some confusion about practicing and actually playing in games. “Student-athletes who end quarantine after day 7 or 10 can return to practice if they can adhere to mitigation measures, including appropriate mask usage and staying at least 6 feet from others while at practice,” says Downes. “However, they cannot return to contests or competition until a full 14 days have passed since their exposure.”
A little confusion hasn’t stopped Westminster from learning and continuing to improve its system. “Covid support will do a thorough review of every situation and so each review and the outcome will be unique,” says Downes. “We’ve learned a lot about how to keep things safe over the last year, and so we also rely on that growing knowledge base.”
Even though playing sports has been hard, players have trusted the process. “All of this is really hard because we are asking people to do things that they might not want to do or might not feel natural, “says Downes, ”but it’s worth it if we can keep our students in school and give them an athletic experience.”
Since playing sports this year has been risky, players have had to test more. Westminster tested athletes over the Christmas break with rapid tests four times. In addition, players have also been taking the school-wide PCR tests.
COVID has a much higher chance of affecting sports than it has school. This means the guidelines are going to be different from school guidelines and make athletes wait longer to return.