Returning to Athletics Following Lockdown: A Gradual Process

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Gianluca Yornet de Rosas/The Bates Student

Bates athletes return to practice Wednesday and will compete this coming Sunday following 12 days of in-room quarantine.

Jackson Elkins, Managing Sports Editor

After nearly two weeks in campus-wide lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 on campus, Bates College is finally open again, and no one is more excited to resume normal life than the spring student-athletes. Intercollegiate competition had resumed just prior to the in-room quarantine after a year-long hiatus, and the lockdown represented yet another challenge in a particularly difficult year.

Thankfully for the spring student-athletes, the wait to compete is nearly over (again), with the first Bates athletic competitions resuming this Sunday.

“The NESCAC and Bates Athletics websites will be updated as soon as changes are made by the conference office so you can see how competitions are rescheduled and impacted. We plan to return gradually … and continue to follow all of our COVID-19 related protocols,” said Athletic Director Jason Fein.

Fein acknowledged the difficulties that have been caused by the lockdown but stated that it’s time for Bates athletics to get back to business: “It’s been a team effort, and even with setbacks, we are glad to get back out there Wednesday and work towards salvaging what’s left of the spring for the student-athletes.”

While the protocol for returning to play differs among each team, all teams will implement some variation of the best practices put in place by both the NESCAC and the NCAA. This includes wearing masks and distancing whenever possible, as well as functioning in smaller practice groups in order to minimize the number of individuals practicing at any one time.

It is also worth noting that under the updated NCAA Return to Play guidelines, all Bates spring sports are considered intermediate to low risk for COVID-19 transmission.

Despite the low risk of transmission in outdoor athletics, the athletic department is fully aware of the importance of continuing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at practices and competitions. Fein emphasized that the return to the level of freedom that athletes experienced prior to the lockdown would not be immediate.

“We are phasing in athletic practices and competitions gradually, as the campus as a whole will take some time to get back into the swing of the semester. Our sports medicine staff and resources and facilities will prioritize our in-season spring sports, as we hope to avoid our spring sports student-athletes losing any more of a second season than they already have,” he said.

With competition beginning this Sunday, there will be plenty of days left in the calendar to ensure that much of the spring season is salvaged, despite the difficulties of the semester to date.