Students at practice

With practices starting up again, Griffon Athletics is doing everything in their power to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many procedures have been put in place to protect both the staff and student-athletes, and some student-athletes have already been sent in to quarantine as a precaution.

Head athletic trainer Blaise Kriley said that there are two reasons athletes can be sent into quarantine. One reason is they have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to quarantine to prevent further spreading. The other reason is if someone had been in direct contact with a positive case, that person needs to quarantine since they have the potential to contract the virus. A direct contact consists of being around a positive case for more than 15 minutes, within six feet and not wearing a mask.

“It’s all called quarantine, but just because you’re told to quarantine doesn’t mean you’re a positive case,” Kriley said. “It solely means that you’ve been exposed or you’re a positive case, and we’re asking you to help the cause and not spread it to anybody else.”

Kriley said that the athletic COVID-19 policies are stricter than that of the CDC’s, and they did that by design. To the best of their ability, the training staff wants to make sure that they aren’t missing anything and all Missouri Western athletes have a chance to stay healthy. They’ve even shut down teams for a few days while waiting for test results just to be extra cautious. However, a program won’t be fully shut down until 20 percent of the roster has tested positive.

The COVID-19 policies require players to wear masks at practice when not involved in strenuous activity. All student-athletes were provided a mask and gaiter from the athletic department. Athletes are also required to take a survey and have their temperatures checked before entering the training facilities or going to practice, and less athletes are allowed in the weight room at one time. The full list of the athletic department’s COVID-19 policies can be found at missouriwestern.edu/covid-19.

Griffon Athletics’ COVID-19 procedures were put together by a taskforce that includes Kriley, Athletic Director Dr. Josh Looney, team physician Dr. Juan Dominguez and Associate Athletic Director Eric Kramer. Kriley meets with Dominguez every two weeks to analyze Missouri Western’s situation and says that their policies could change as new information becomes available.

At the beginning of the semester, the training staff met with each team to ensure they understood the new policies, and Kriley said teams have been great about following the new guidelines. He understands that student-athletes are creatures of habit, and it’s difficult having their routine taken away from them.

“That’s really difficult and that’s why we felt it’s so important to do everything we can to try to give athletes some sense of normalcy where they can work out, they can practice and hopefully we’ll get competition back as soon as we can,” Kriley said.

Women’s soccer player Tori Barrett recently completed the 14-day quarantine period. She was sent into quarantine as a precaution and even had a negative test result. Her team began practicing on Sept. 8 for the first time since Aug. 25, and she said she’s excited to finally join them.

“Practice is somewhere that I can forget about outside factors and stressors for two hours, be with my friends and play the sport I love,” Barrett said. “So, I can’t wait to get back to doing that.”

During quarantine, Barrett was able to stay in her off-campus house in St. Joseph, and was constantly texting or FaceTiming her teammates. A few even brought her groceries, coffee and other treats. 

The training staff communicates with quarantined athletes through forms every two to three days. The forms make athletes aware of symptoms to look for and make sure that the athletes have enough food, medicine or other necessities.

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