Bill Ross, the Director of Athletics and Recreation, answers questions regarding Allegheny’s COVID-19 plan for the upcoming sports season

Bill Ross, the Director of Athletics and Recreation, answers questions regarding Allegheny’s COVID-19 plan for the upcoming sports season.

How is Allegheny protecting their student-athletes from COVID-19 this school year?

Allegheny is one of many schools that strongly recommend vaccines for all of our students, so that holds true for all our student-athletes as well. If you’re back on campus, you are most likely vaccinated and we appreciate all the efforts that the students have gone through to be vaccinated. It certainly makes all our lives easier, not only with the vaccine, but also with some of the steps the health agency has put into place this year for us. We will be testing our student-athletes probably three days after they return from away trips. Obviously, we want to create a bubble on campus with all the vaccinated people, but some of these students have to leave campus. So, testing all the traveling student-athletes will help detect if there are any issues COVID-19 related or not. It’s just another layer of protection for the entire campus and we are happy to do that.

Similar to last year, will the student-athletes be tested more frequently than non-student-athletes?

The concern is that student athletes interact with either the visiting team or when the student athletes are traveling and having close contact with students from other colleges. Our way of protecting our athletes is to test every single student athlete for the away games. However, the students who are being tested for the away games at the time will not have to do the bi-weekly test that is administered on campus during that two week span.

What is the vaccination status for the other colleges in the NCAC?

I think that you will see a 99% vaccination rate at most colleges and with the FDA approval of the Pfiezer (now called the Comirnaty) vaccine, it will be a lot easier and more comforting for folks to get the vaccine. In the NCAA, their guidelines anticipate that most college campuses are around 80% vaccinated. In another way to protect students from the spread of COVID-19, the NCAA expects student athletes to be tested at least once a week. Those opponents that are not at 99% like Allegheny will be tested more frequently.

What are some other precautions student-athletes need to take while traveling on the road?

The visiting team will defer to the hosting team’s protocols. If they are requiring that Allegheny student-athletes enter into their town and facilities masked, they will follow these guidelines. If they are requiring that masks are to be worn during the sport of volleyball, for example, our student-athletes will oblige.


What is Allegheny’s policy of having off campus fans attend sporting events?

Allegheny has a visitors’ policy in place that fans need to remain masked at all times, regardless of vaccination status. The seating capacity for outdoor events might be more than indoor sports. Meanwhile, for the seating capacity of indoor events, we will need to work with ACHA for clarification.

What is the contingency plan for Allegheny sports if enough students acquire COVID-19?

Right now the protocol is that if someone tests positive, they must undergo a ten-day isolation period. There will also be contact tracing that will take place, which will determine whether or not someone needs to be in quarantine. This will be pretty much the same protocol in place that we had last year. Because of the vaccination status at Allegheny, the time that someone needs to spend in isolation would be reduced. Also, with the contact tracing, let’s say if a student brushes by someone that got COVID-19, the protocol will not be as strict. We would also be able to continue practices and competitions based upon the ACHA’s recommendations. Last year if enough students received COVID-19, the competition would be postponed. This year there will be full schedules, and to make sure that colleges are keeping pace with the schedule, depending on the percentage of players that have the virus, there will be games that are forfeited. To clarify, if a team has under 50 players, and three percent or more of their athletes have ongoing COVID-19 cases, they will be subject to forfeitures. For teams with greater than 50 players, if five percent or more of their athletes have ongoing COVID-19 cases, they will then be subject to forfeitures. This is why we are thrilled that Allegheny has a 99% vaccination rate, compared to other schools that are not at that threshold; our chances of being shut down are pretty slim because we have that many people vaccinated.