COVID-19 testing allows spring season to be loaded with many sports

Dakaline White, Staff Reporter

If being followed correctly, safety protocols set up by the NCAA will allow student athletes to participate in their respective sport this fall. 

This spring will involve fall sports including volleyball, women’s rugby, soccer and football along with men’s and women’s basketball, which is usually played in the winter. The athletes are being tested for COVID-19 depending on which category of risk the NCAA has put them in. 

“The NCAA has classified different sports into high-risk, intermediate-risk and low-risk in terms of [COVID-19],” Director of Athletics Dennis Francois said. “Basketball, football and rugby are all three high risk sports for us.” 

Heavy contact and indoor sports are classified as high-risk for COVID-19. Outdoor sports with less contact are classified as intermediate-risk, while outdoor non-contact sports like cross country and track and field are classified as low-risk, according to Francois. 

Volleyball was originally classified as a high-risk sport but after the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) voted for the players to wear masks during competition, the sport was moved down to the intermediate risk category. Players are required to wear masks during practice and while playing in games. Since soccer is an outdoor sport it was also moved from high-risk to intermediate-risk with no in-game mask requirements. 

These risk categories regulate how often players are to be tested for COVID-19 while in their championship segment. Their championship segment is the time the sport is usually scheduled to play a season and then compete for a championship. 

“We do a PCR test for our high-risk sports during their championship segment, once per week,” Francois said. “For basketball right now, we’re testing them every Wednesday, PCR, and we’re using University of Washington labs for that.”

The intermediate risk sports are tested at a different rate than those classified as high-risk. 25% of the program’s tier one personnel, which includes student athletes, players, coaches and trainers, are tested every two weeks with a PCR test. 

The low-risk sports are required by the NCAA to be tested in accordance with the general student body of their university. 

According to Francois, CWU has had athletes in numerous sports test positive for COVID-19. Once the players come back positive, they are to follow quarantine regulations. 

“One thing that we have not had in any of our sports is none of the positives have been directly traced back to their participation in athletics,” said Francois. “More often it’s from a roommate or social gatherings.”

Even with sports starting from all three seasons, no fans will be allowed to attend the games to limit possible exposures to COVID-19 and this is looking to be indefinite. 

“I’m pretty confident that’s probably going to stay in place for us here at [CWU],” Francois said.