Pierce College Athletic’s Road to Recovery

Pierce College reopens sports and practices on campus following a 2020 press release

February 17, 2021

In a press release on Dec. 13, 2021 the Northwest Athletic Conference confirmed that all sports would return to play during the Winter quarter. After competition was suspended on March 17, 2020, no NWAC programs have stepped on the field together in official contests. The Covid-19 pandemic has barred student-athletes from competing and practicing when some programs haven’t competed since fall of 2019.

During the first week of February, all Pierce College sports were up and running, beginning their safe return to play. This marks the first time that all sports have competed during the same quarter, which adds pressure to scheduling and safety measures. 

According to the NWAC’s Covid-19 Health and Safety Policies manual, each NWAC competition will conduct a four-phase plan that will ease restrictions going forward. 

The first phase or grey phase includes a mandatory shelter-in-place where student-athletes are limited to essential travel only. This travel includes work, food shopping, mandatory labs and school-related responsibilities. Coaches are not permitted to hold in-person meetings or engage in socially distant workouts for two weeks.

Once the shelter-in-place is completed, practices are able to occur in person. Full team practices are not permitted, as small team training in pods of five or six must be followed. Each pod could practice on the same field, but no contacts between each divided group are allowed. Once two weeks of this process is finished, teams will be able to resume full team practices. 

Moving into the yellow phase, teams will be allowed to resume full team practices and sports facility gyms will be allowed to open. In every phase, teams are required to wear masks at all times, including in games. Although, these protocols are subject to change as the NWAC and Pierce College follows the guidelines set by Pierce County and Washington State health officials.

Since Pierce County is in phase two of Governor Inslee’s Road Map to Recovery, Pierce College competitions are allowed to practice in full roster capacity. Other counties who remain in phase one will have to stay in small group practices until they meet three out of the four Covid-19 restrictions. 

According to the NWAC, these restrictions include a 10% decrease in biweekly cases per 100,000 people, a 10% decrease in biweekly Covid-19 hospitalizations, an ICU occupancy of less than 90%, and a test positivity rate of less than 10%.

When the NWAC enters the blue phase, all competitions are allowed to resume. Although, competitions this year will look different due to the banning of all fan attendance. This came as a measure to mediate the risk of Covid-19 exposure to NWAC student-athletes.

Before each game and practice, each player and coach is required to complete an online Health Check form to be eligible for competition. Furthermore, before each team meeting, all players and staff must have their temperature taken to ensure no symptoms of Covid-19 are shown.

Games are expected to take place on March 1 and have a window to complete all competition until June 15. This wide window allows each program to complete approximately 20 games for all sports. All games are subject to change as Covid-19 restrictions can alter the road to recovery laid out by the conference and state.

The NWAC and Pierce College sports will not be the same without fans and the support of Pierce students but there are several ways to catch every competition. All games will be streamed online through the NWAC website where all games can be viewed online. Another location for streamed games is through the NWAC Youtube channel that will broadcast all competitions.

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