Locker rooms are usually among the least hygienic places when it comes to sports – even prior to a pandemic. With COVID-19, they can be a breeding ground for the virus.
With winter sports in full swing, other concerns may surface that were not on the university’s radar in the summer or spring since most activities take place inside. The Omicron variant while not at it’s peak, is still more contagious than any other variant of COVID-19 that has surfaced.
The locker room is a close contact area where social distancing is not always possible. Sweat and dirt are prevalent. So are heavy-breathers and athletes who come in from sometimes hours of vigorous exercise. The close contact that is unavoidable in athletics is a reason that several collegiate sporting events across the country have been postponed or forced some teams to quarantine.
“The only precaution we’ve taken is mask wearing on the sidelines during practice and games and in the locker room,” Ryan Byars, junior men’s basketball guard, said.
While Cabrini and its athletic department have required masks at the Dixon Center and other campus buildings, there’s only so much they can do to lessen the spread among players in the winter. Cabrini does not have anything set in stone that requires athletes to take tests daily, just the requirement of being fully vaccinated.
“We haven’t as an athletic department made guidelines for COVID-19,” Katie Corcoran, Cabrini’s athletic director, said. “Instead we are following NCAA Recommendations for COVID-19 protocols.”
With the Omicron variant being extremely present, an area such as a college campus where there are clusters of people living together, would be a prime spot for an outbreak. Cabrini has taken precautions and measures across the campus body to lessen the spread as much as possible, which has found its way toward the sports teams as well.
“We do our best by taking precautions in the locker room, but it is hard because we spend so much time with each other outside of the sport,” Leila Collazo, junior women’s basketball guard, said.
The only winter sports that Cabrini has are basketball and swimming, both sports are played indoors. Based on scientifically researched data, COVID-19 spreads faster amongst populations inside than it does to populations outside. In addition, the only precautions fans are obliged to take is mask-wearing, which is consistent with the rest of the campus’ facilities.
With the Omicron variant being unexpected, the Atlantic East Conference when scheduling the games did not factor the Omicron variant into possible team outbreak and quarantining scenarios. Fortunately, there are currently two sports going on amongst conference play, which reduces the chance of an outbreak. However with spring sports starting to train now, this policy is subject to change.
Cabrini is in the first few weeks of the spring semester. When it comes to the sports teams, who are constantly practicing and sweating and breathing on each other, an outbreak should not be ruled out just yet. Only time will tell how prevalent the Omicron variant will be prevalent, which will affect how the university and its athletic department will operate.