NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.-- The halfway point of the semester has come for Westminster students. The college has overall succeeded with keeping students on campus, having sports teams practicing for their upcoming seasons in 2021 and keeping COVID-19 cases low.
However, whenever a case of COVID-19 does pop up on campus, several students are normally quarantined. Often, some student athletes may have to quarantine. This leaves the question of what these athletes will have to do before they return to practice if they are quarantined of if they test positive for COVID-19.
“As far as an athlete that is going into quarantine, they would have been identified as a close contact of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 and basically, there's going to be a contact tracing process with that individual who tested positive. And so they're going to identify any people that they have close contact with outside of athletics. And then, from athletic stance, we're going to look at who's in their, their group, because most of the sports right now are in in smaller subgroups on their teams. So we don't have too many full squad activities going on. So we have limited groups that are gonna be the same every day. So that in the instance, that a person does test positive, and only those people in that group are going to be involved rather than an entire squad, right. If a person is identified as being a close contact, then they arrange to go into quarantine, and some of those people do have the option to go home and quarantine there, if they're going to quarantine on campus, then hillside has been designated as the quarantine building for that time, and an individual going to a 14-day quarantine, because symptoms can develop basically, over a wide range of time and 14 days has sort of been considered the top end of that right now,” said Head Athletic Trainer Shaun Toomey. “In addition to going into quarantine, they will also each of those people who go into quarantine will also be tested for the presence of the virus. And that's a relatively recent adjustment from the CDC.”
There is a designated space outside of Hillside so that student athletes won’t have to stay inside their room the whole time. This can help limit a drop off in their level of conditioning so they are not as much at risk of injury upon return.
“They can get out and, have an area to work out to run do some functional drills that are sports specific for them as long as they stay separate from other people during that time. So they have a chance to work out but they have to work out individually during that time. And over the course of that 14-day quarantine, if they do not develop any symptoms and plan have not tested positive, then at the end of that time, they're going to be allowed to return to activities,” added Toomey.
“Well, if a person has tested positive, then technically we use a different term and they go into isolation at that point. And generally, the timeframe is 10 days for it to run its course. So 10 days from the either the onset of symptoms or the the date of positive test, as long as they are asymptomatic. By the end of that period, if they're still showing any types of symptoms, then they would remain in isolation until they're deemed to be symptom free at that point. Now with that, to return to activity, while they're in isolation, the recommendation is that they not be working out vigorously during that time,” said Toomey about if a student athlete tests positive. “So there's a much bigger concern as far as reconditioning for their sport. There have also been some studies that have found that there can be cardiac side effects induced by the virus. So it's called a Myocarditis is one of the common ones which have been inflammatory condition around the heart. And so basically, in addition to being cleared to return they have to be seen by our cardiologist and evaluated determine any type of additional testing that would be warranted in order to determine they are not at risk for cardiac side effects and eligible for return to sport.”
Toomey said once they have run the timeframe and are symptom free, a student athlete returning from a positive test will typically not have to test negative because some COVID-19 tests can pick up components of the dead virus that can still be in a person’s system.