Ben Prescott, reporter
With sports teams gearing up to compete in the fall season, the NCAA released new COVID-19 testing guidance in Aug. 2021. Their guidance is broken down into tiers based on contact. Sports that have high contact with other people, such as football and basketball, are listed as Tier 1 and have the highest frequency of testing at three times a week.
Since the recent availability of COVID-19 vaccines, only unvaccinated student-athletes are required to test. If a student-athlete is 14 days removed from receiving their last COVID-19 vaccine, they are no longer required to test. According to football athletic trainer, Kat Duncanson, this policy is being received well among student-athletes.
“I think the unvaccinated that do have to get tested are okay with it because it’s their choice,” Duncanson said. “It’s either you get vaccinated and you don’t have to be tested or you’re u n v a c c i n a t e d and you have to be tested.”
Duncanson also mentioned the possibility of a vaccinated student-athlete coming into contact with the virus and the necessary protocols that follow.
“[If contact traced,] vaccinated people have to wear a mask for 10 days, inside and outside,” Duncanson said. “Or, you can test negative between days three and five (after the initial contact date).”
M o s t student-athletes understand the importance of testing frequently for COVID-19. A senior student-athlete, who chose to speak anonymously, acknowledges that testing is important to teams that want to play an entire season.
“In some ways, I think that it is beneficial because if one person gets it, then you can nip it in the bud and not have half your team have to go home because of COVID,” the student-athlete said.
The anonymous student-athlete also spoke on the severity of the virus because their mother is a nurse.
“What my mom sees at the hospital is no joke,” the student-athlete said. “That’s not left or right politics or news. It’s straight up what’s happening.”
While knowing the severity of COVID-19, this student-athlete did not get the vaccine until they felt like they had to because of the NCAA guidelines on testing.
For unvaccinated student athletes, COVID-19 testing takes place three times a week in the mornings before classes start.
“They make it at 7:45 a.m., three days a week so that you can’t do anything besides that,” the student-athlete said. “If you don’t have class until 10:00 or 12:30, you still have to go get up at 7:00 in the morning to go COVID test and they’re just doing that so that we have to get the vaccine. Which I did.”