As a significant number of COVID-19 cases have emerged on campus in the past few weeks, the scope of health and safety procedures looks very different from the start of the semester. However, despite the additional safety measures across campus, the Athletic Department has stuck to their previously outlined protocols, relying mostly on campus status levels and guidance from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“We’re following the NCAA guidance which is, if there are three or more cases simultaneously within one team, that’s when you reevaluate and ensure that everyone on the team has been tested in the near-term so that you can get ahead of a potential wide-spreading situation within a particular team,” Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan said.
This protocol has been implemented for at least one of Bowdoin’s athletic teams, as practices had to be paused to allow for complete testing of the players in the program.
Besides testing, the department is relying on mask-wearing requirements in indoor spaces to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“Our volleyball team has been practicing and playing with masks on, and if we’re under the same circumstances three months from now, we’ll likely be doing the same thing with basketball,” Ryan said.
When facing other teams, Bowdoin is using a relatively relaxed approach compared to last spring. Only unvaccinated members of teams from other schools are forced to take an antigen test before boarding a bus to Bowdoin.
“We’re requiring an antigen test prior to a bus departing for Bowdoin for unvaccinated players or coaches,” Ryan said. “Those unvaccinated players and coaches also have to mask during competition as well, and that goes beyond the NCAA recommendations … there isn’t a masking requirement from the NCAA guidelines, but we are requiring masking both indoors and outdoors.”
Despite these restrictions on campus, the rules may differ significantly when the College’s teams travel to other institutions.
“When we travel to another institution that does not have [an indoor] masking requirement during competition, we would allow our team to not mask while players are on the court,” Ryan said. “It’s similar to a student from Bowdoin leaving campus and making decisions about masking.”
In general, the department is staying flexible and open-minded when approaching competitions and guidelines. Both the Athletic Department and the individual teams are attempting to find a balance between giving its players the freedom they need to enjoy the extent of their seasons and keeping Bowdoin and the greater Brunswick community safe.
“We’ll continue to evaluate as our campus status continues to evolve, and we’ll follow the science as well,” Ryan said. “I think everyone on campus hopes that we continue to contain the virus and that we’re all in Green status for the majority of the time that we’re on campus.”