Tribe Athletics pauses all activities after rise in COVID-19 cases

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COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

The College of William and Mary has paused all athletic activities and practice sessions after 12 people associated with Tribe Athletics tested positive for COVID-19. This update was communicated to student-athletes via an email sent out Wednesday, Oct. 7, though no specifics on which sports they were associated with were provided.

According to the email, all student-athletes were contacted by their athletic trainers to schedule a COVID-19 test for today. Any staff member associated with Tribe Athletics will be tested tomorrow, Oct 8.

“We had a number of positive cases of COVID-19 reported over the last few days as a result of our prevalence testing and through our self-reporting system,” College spokesperson Erin Zagursky said in an email to the Flat Hat. “…W&M Athletics takes every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including physical distancing, cleaning and mask-wearing. The department is following all guidelines set forth by the university, CDC and NCAA.”

Student-athletes were instructed to still report to their in-person classes unless they are contacted by their case manager or test positive. Those who have already tested positive have received information on how to isolate for the next 10 days. Students who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be asked to quarantine for 14 days and will receive a COVID-19 test on their seventh day of quarantine.

The rise in on-campus COVID-19 cases has led to concerns among athletes and other students. Cross country athlete Liv Paxton ’20 posted a screenshot of the email sent out to all student-athletes on a Facebook group named, “Swampy Memes for TWAMPy Teens,” which since received over 143 reactions and 40 comments from alarmed students.

Paxton uploaded a screenshot of the email student-athletes received onto Facebook Group “Swampy Memes for TWAMPy Teens.”

“We’re very in the dark,” Paxton said in an email. “… I just know there’s a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. Our practices have been canceled (for good reason), but we don’t know how serious this is. Mostly I have a lot of questions about what this means for going back to class in person next week and how many positive tests they aren’t telling us about. I will say this all happened very quickly. Yesterday, I knew nobody who had tested positive or had even been in contact with someone with COVID-19 on the campus, and now all I hear is that Richmond Hall is filling up with people needing to quarantine.”

Practice and training sessions will not resume until directed so by Tribe Athletics’ Chief Medical Officer Virginia Wells.

Potential COVID-19 spread among student-athletes also put additional pressure on quarantine and isolation facilities at Richmond Hall, which has provided interim housing for dozens of students during the fall 2020 semester. The afternoon of Oct. 7, more than 20 students were residing in Richmond.

“As of today, about 24 students are quarantining in Richmond Hall, but that number will evolve as some students leave quarantine and others enter, depending on the individual cases,” Zagursky said.

This is a breaking story and may be updated. Last updated 6 p.m. Oct. 7.