By Taylor Christensen
The University of Findlay Athletic Department has a system in place to help student-athletes and coaches navigate the safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The color-coded system used by the athletic department was designed to allow for the most flexibility to look at sports individually to adapt to changes quickly with ease according to UF Athletic Director Brandi Laurita.
“The system was designed following the guidance of the NCAA Resocialization of Sport Document that recommends a phased approach to return to athletics,” Laurita said.
Along with the general rules of social-distancing, universal masking, and the daily health check that all students must participate in, the athletic department has created the color system to put strict guidelines on how teams can practice.
As of Sept. 23, UF tennis and cross-country teams, volleyball, soccer, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, basketball, baseball and softball were under a “code orange”. That means that team is under the least restrictions possible. It gives athletic teams the “go” to have full team practices with social distancing and masking. Team meetings are to be conducted in spaces large enough for half capacity or to meet outside with masking.
Code black is the moderate restrictive option, limiting practices to groups of ten with social distancing and masking, when not in activity. Multiple groups of ten can practice at the same time but are not allowed to be intermingling. Teams can have full team meetings, but only in spaces large enough for half capacity or outside with masks and social distancing, or virtually. Those teams currently include: football, women’s lacrosse and wrestling.
White is the restrictive option; practices can only have groups of ten with social distancing and masking when not in activity. Full team meetings are to be conducted virtually, and there is no competitive play allowed at practice.
Red indicates that athletic teams must pause activity. This is when the state or local university directives prohibit activity, which will result in the pause of activity for a short time or for the remainder of the semester depending on the situation.
Senior student-athlete Brette Klop is alright with the new system in place.
“I personally feel comfortable with the way the university is handling the situation,” Klopp said. “Each color gives us athletes a good idea of what is going to happen for each different situation that could happen with the craziness of COVID-19.”
“I am cautiously optimistic,” Laurita said in an email interview. “I believe this approach has allowed us to adjust and be nimble when necessary and has allowed us to follow our three guiding principles: keeping student-athletes safe, keeping our coaches and staff safe, and providing the most complete athletic experience possible.”
UF is not the only school using this kind of approach, other colleges are also fighting off COVID-19 with similar action, but each plan is very specific to the different schools.
“With the guidelines set forward by the NCAA, each school had to use state, local, and university policies to make a plan that would work for their specific needs,” Laurita said.
In the original information Laurita sent to student-athletes the notice said, “Oilers will make it their personal responsibility to be leaders in how we approach COVID-19 or any other infectious disease.”
To make sure these guidelines are followed, the university stated in the notice there is zero-tolerance policy for student-athletes and athletic staff who do not follow to the guidelines. Violating the protocol will result in removal from participation in athletic activities.