How College Athletics Is Bracing for Its Latest Battle With Omicron, COVID-19 – CalBearsMaven

We’re about to enter 2022. But it’s recently started to feel a lot like 2020 to UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond.

He is presiding over a department that is conducting several rounds of contact tracing per day. He is checking daily on his teams’ roster availability numbers. And he’s walking into locker rooms to deliver grim news about a game cancellation.

“It is a bit of a déjà vu,” Jarmond says. “It’s a, ‘Here we go again!’ It’s not a good feeling. No one is sleeping well.”

COVID-19’s latest surge, the fifth since the pandemic began 22 months ago, is wreaking havoc on college sports once again. The latest strain of the virus, the omicron variant, is spreading across the country at a busy time in the world of NCAA athletics. Conference basketball schedules are within a week or two of tipping off. Football bowl season is gearing up for its busiest stretch. And the College Football Playoff is on the docket, too.

So far, more than 120 men’s and women’s basketball games have been canceled by the coronavirus, according to figures tracked by the NCAA. Three men’s teams have had at least three games canceled already, including Jarmond’s Bruins. And at least two bowl-bound football teams, Miami and Texas A&M, have paused activities because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The situation is serious enough that conference executives are exploring whether to reinstate coronavirus-related policies from last season. The NCAA’s own COVID-19 medical advisory group recently restarted its weekly Zoom calls, too, and is examining the possibility of resorting to 2020–21 COVID-19 guidelines.

Most college athletic departments curtailed weekly COVID-19 testing over the summer as they reached a high-enough vaccination level. At many schools, only unvaccinated or symptomatic athletes and coaches are regularly tested. Many programs also ended mitigation tactics such as wearing masks and social distancing.

“There are real conversations about going back into isolation and back into [regular] COVID testing from last year,” says Jeremy Cauwels, a member of the NCAA advisory group and the chief physician of Sanford Health in South Dakota.

A Memphis fan looks on after the team’s game against Tennessee was canceled due to COVID-19 protocol in the Tigers’ program.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports

While some suggest the latest surge may trigger the return of such protocols, the college athletics world—including some medical experts—believes the opposite: Protocols should be further relaxed in response to a strain that, while more contagious, has shown far less severity of illness than its troubling predecessor, delta.

In fact, NCAA leaders have been in conversation with officials from the CDC about adjusting the mandatory 10-day quarantine for young people who test positive, multiple physicians and college administrators tell Sports Illustrated. Their argument? Vaccinated young people are showing either no symptoms or very mild symptoms, and their symptoms are subsiding within two to three days.

“The question that needs to be asked is, if the risk of severe illness—hospitalization, death, …….

Source: https://www.si.com/college/2021/12/22/college-sports-omicron-protocols

We’re about to enter 2022. But it’s recently started to feel a lot like 2020 to UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond.

He is presiding over a department that is conducting several rounds of contact tracing per day. He is checking daily on his teams’ roster availability numbers. And he’s walking into locker rooms to deliver grim news about a game cancellation.

“It is a bit of a déjà vu,” Jarmond says. “It’s a, ‘Here we go again!’ It’s not a good feeling. No one is sleeping well.”

COVID-19’s latest surge, the fifth since the pandemic began 22 months ago, is wreaking havoc on college sports once again. The latest strain of the virus, the omicron var…….

We’re about to enter 2022. But it’s recently started to feel a lot like 2020 to UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond.

He is presiding over a department that is conducting several rounds of contact tracing per day. He is checking daily on his teams’ roster availability numbers. And he’s walking into locker rooms to deliver grim news about a game cancellation.

“It is a bit of a déjà vu,” Jarmond says. “It’s a, ‘Here we go again!’ It’s not a good feeling. No one is sleeping well.”

COVID-19’s latest surge, the fifth since the pandemic began 22 months ago, is wreaking havoc on college sports once again. The latest strain of the virus, the omicron var…….

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