As ESU looks to reopen in-person classes in the fall, the biggest test has been the operation of the spring sports this semester.
With eight teams in season and the others still practicing, the athletic department was set up with a mammoth task of creating a safe way for these sports to resume.
Coordinator of Athletic Training Services, Dr. Colleen Shotwell, was placed into a role of COVID-19 administration and organization for athletics to front the campaign of resuming sports safely.
Her role includes organizing testing for student athletes, receiving results and ensuring all athletes are following both the ESU and NCAA protocols.
A lot of Dr. Shotwell’s hard work has been under the radar and thanks to her efforts, the sporting seasons have been operating rather smoothly.
In email communication with Dr. Shotwell, she mentioned that President Long’s commitment to testing university residents, athletes and face-to-face students has allowed COVID cases to remain low and minimized the spread throughout the campus community.
Junior Celeste Veenstra had first-hand experience with the quarantine process. Veenstra said that when she found out that she was positive, she called her coach and a couple of hours later was on a call with Dr. Shotwell.
After completing her quarantine period, she participated in a ‘return to sport’ protocol before getting back to practice. Veenstra described her experience as “good and smooth with no big problems.”
A large part of the athletic departments COVID-19 protocol is contact tracing.
Dr. Shotwell said that “typically you would trace 48 hours prior to the individual testing positive or becoming symptomatic”.
However, with the constantly changing information around national regulations, some student athletes have found themselves confused to how the policies function.
Speaking to a few athletes on an anonymous basis, it was mentioned that the policies did not make sense and felt inconsistent.
The student athletes also mentioned that the idea of what classified as exposure felt like it was constantly changing.
Dr. Shotwell addressed these shifts in information, ensuring that the CDC, PA DOH, and NCAA have all guided the department in all their COVID-19 protocols.
She further mentioned her participation in conference calls every other Wednesday with the Chief Medical Officer of the NCAA, Brian Hainline, to learn of any new events, concerns, and changes to NCAA recommendations.
Dr. Shotwell also thanked the Lehigh Valley Health Network physicians for being amazing in answering questions.
Looking to the fall semester and beyond, there is no certainty to what COVID-19 policies and procedures will look like.
However, the athletic department does remain focused on the goal which is to continue to bring back all athletes and create the best experience of a season as possible.
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