Athletes not required to wear masks in varsity weight room

Ellie Lowe, Staff Writer

Going into another semester during the COVID pandemic, the University has continued maintaining and updating policies and procedures for students, faculty and staff. One of these policies is masking.
According to the University’s website, “Face coverings are required of everyone in all public and academic indoor campus spaces, regardless of social distancing or vaccination status.”

This excludes outdoor and private areas, as well as dining areas when actively eating or drinking.

The Krebs Family Fitness Center, the University’s public indoor gym facility, is one of the places designated as a public area that requires masking. The Fitness Center is open to all University students, faculty & staff, and individuals who have purchased memberships.

While the Fitness Center is designated as a public indoor location, the varsity weight room is not. The space, which is reserved for varsity athletes, is considered to be a private location.

This means that masks are not required, although they are recommended.
“The Varsity Weight Rooms are designated as private spaces due to being a team-scheduled area that is supervised at all times by our professional strength/performance staff. As a private space, the department implements COVID mitigation strategies beyond those in the public spaces of KLARC.” Deputy Director of Athletics, Tim Pavlechko said.
“The additional safety and cleaning measures include — team-focused scheduling and equipment assignments; adjusted maximum occupancy limits; physical distancing strategies within the large-volume spaces; extended hours; supervised cleaning of equipment performed by student-athletes and professional staff before, during and after each workout; symptom and illness tracking by each sport’s licensed athletic trainer; and, use of additional air and surface disinfection technologies in the spaces,” Pavlechko said.

Other designated private spaces on campus are dorm rooms, residential common rooms and private faculty offices. These rooms generally have two to three people in them at any given time, with residential common spaces tending to have the most people in them with maybe 10 or 15 on a particularly busy day.

The varsity weight room, albeit larger than most common rooms, is reserved by team. On top of that, they are participating in physical activity, which leads to heavier breathing.

While student-athletes are required to have a negative PCR result 72 hours before, or a negative antigen result 24 hours before competing, they are not required to test regularly unless they are unvaccinated.
Even though there are additional cleaning precautions, according to the Centers for Disease Control website: “the principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low.”

The limitations on student-athletes are the same as students who are not athletes regarding gathering and traveling. This suggests that the University acknowledges student-athletes and non-student athletes have equal ability to contract COVID-19.

“Our sports medicine team (athletic trainers, team doctors, administrators) evaluates our Resocialization of Athletics Activity Action Plan on a daily basis to safely support the activities of our Division I student-athletes,” Pavlechko said.

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