Eric Bell, Staff Writer
What do we do, or have to do now? With the start of the spring semester now upon us and in full swing, Saint Martin’s athletics are continuing or starting back up! As teams come back together for practice and competition, people are wondering how the rise of Covid-19 and the Omicron variant is coming into play and how things are being accounted for. We all need to continue to stay safe and protect ourselves and others through these unprecedented times. Right now, are all trying to figure out how to do so.
With the uncertainty surrounding the new developments of the pandemic, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released updated Covid-19 guidelines to try to bring about some ease during these anxious months. Saint Martin’s University, along with all other NCAA-affiliated schools, has adopted these guidelines and have already begun implementing them throughout the athletic department.
A large part of this update is that the NCAA has adjusted its definition of “fully vaccinated” individuals. Earlier in the pandemic, being “fully vaccinated” meant that individuals had either received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine series, or the Moderna vaccine series. The vaccine series for Pfizer and Moderna means that individuals have had both doses of the vaccine. With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, individuals only need to get one dose, because it is different than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Per the NCAA’s update at ncaa.com, now to be “fully vaccinated”, individuals need to be either within two months of receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, five months of receiving the Pfizer vaccine series, or six months of receiving the Moderna vaccine series. In addition to this, if student-athletes have received the vaccine earlier than the described windows above, they must have received a booster vaccine to qualify as being “fully vaccinated.” Finally, student-athletes who are within 90 days of a Covid-19 infection qualify as equivalent to being “fully vaccinated” because they now have the antibodies and won’t get it again for a while.
The second major part to come out of the NCAA’s update is the change in quarantining and isolation periods for student-athletes who test positive for Covid-19. Earlier in the pandemic, the quarantine time for individuals who tested positive was ten days. Per the update, the quarantine time has been cut in half, down to five days as long as the student-athlete has no symptoms or their “symptoms are resolving.” After those five days, the NCAA suggests the individual masking around others for five more days, except during athletic activities which follow a negative test.
As for isolation, fully vaccinated individuals who have come in close contact with someone who tests positive do not have to quarantine but are suggested by the NCAA to wear a mask when not participating in athletic activities. Unvaccinated individuals, on the other hand, should still quarantine for five days if they come in close contact with someone with Covid-19.
This is a systemic change, as before student-athletes did not need a booster vaccine to be considered “fully vaccinated”, and they only needed to have the regular doses. The other big change here is the quarantine period has been cut in half, allowing student-athletes to return to the field and the classroom earlier than before.
These new updates are important to follow because the NCAA is not creating guidelines on its own. It is following the guidelines which the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has laid out. The NCAA’s update is merely bringing these new guidelines to the world of college sports.
Although the guidelines have changed, the overall idea hasn’t: do what you can to keep you and others as safe as possible.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) logoVia: NCAA (@NCAA) / Twitter