Tech athletics last week reopened their on-campus athletic activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan, which went into effect on June 15, allowed student-athletes to make use of certain athletic facilities on campus, subject to several limitations. This decision comes as the school prepares for the potential return of sporting events to the campus in the fall semester.
As part of the plan, student-athletes are required to schedule a time to use specific facilities. This includes weight rooms but not locker room spaces, which will be off-limits to athletes and personnel. Students also have to fill out a health questionnaire prior to the appointment and have their temperature taken upon arrival. No more than 10 student-athletes and two staff members are allowed in a facility at a given time, and a six feet distance is required between individuals at all times. In addition to this, all equipment and machines must be sanitized between uses. While these procedures are being implemented, all staff members and other employees of the athletic department who are able to work remotely will continue to do so.
All these measures come as schools around the country look ahead to what sports may look like in the coming months. While there is still uncertainty surrounding the return of the NCAA in the fall, many schools have expressed optimism that a resumption of in-person classes will also allow sports to return in some capacity. Tech is among many institutions who have announced tentative plans to bring students back to campus in August. The fact that college-age athletes are one of the lowest risk demographics for the coronavirus, together with the reality that cases are decreasing in many states across the county, provide some level of hope that sports will be possible in the fall semester.
It remains to be seen how many people will be allowed to enter stadiums and arenas, and what limits may be placed on interactions between players, coaches, media members and fans. Probably the most important date on Tech’s athletic calendar right now is September 3rd — the football season opener at home against Clemson. Playing such a game in an empty stadium would certainly be a blow to the program, both from a financial and a recruiting perspective. However, such considerations must necessarily take a backseat to public health and safety concerns during times like these. At this point, the only thing to be done is wait and hope that things will be somewhat close to normal when sports do return. These initiatives are hopefully the first steps towards making that a reality.