Newman athletics on pause due to COVID-19

By Tejay Cleland, Sports Editor

All Newman athletic teams were told on Wednesday to stop all athletically-related activities, including practices, until further notice after a spike in positive cases and people with symptoms at Newman.

On Wednesday, the school’s COVID-19 dashboard indicated that 10 new cases had been reported among students and another two among faculty and staff. Those two cases are the first non-student infections reported so far this semester.

Athletic Director Joanna Pryor announced the suspension of athletic activities in an email sent to all coaches on Wednesday morning.

“We are shutting down the weight room and training room until further notice,” the email read. “Housekeeping will be fogging all areas in the building. We have quite a few positives and many people with symptoms. We have to get a handle on this. There should be no countable athletically related activities or gatherings until further notice. Please emphasize masks and distancing.”

Later on Wednesday, Pryor said in an email to The Vantage that while activities are shut down, the school will be disinfecting the areas not being used.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed the weight room to do a heavy sanitization that needs three days to sit,” Pryor said. “This could be done periodically throughout the year. We have also performed the same process in locker rooms and the training room.”

Under NCAA regulations, men’s and women’s basketball have started their in-season COVID testing, and all players, staff and other personnel are now tested at least once-a-week.

The 12 new cases on Wednesday are an unprecedented spike at Newman, as the previous high number of cases was seven in a week, according to the weekly COVID update email from Newman President Kathleen Jagger. That number of cases came last week, Oct. 26 through Nov. 1. The new cases bring the running total of positives to 56 students and two faculty members.

Since Oct. 26, Sedgwick County has broken its record of daily cases four times, the highest coming in on Nov. 2 at 3,804 cases.

Women’s basketball senior Bailey Hawkins said that while the shutdown was unexpected, it makes every opportunity playing more meaningful.

“It’s a really tough situation to be in, but I think it will make our team appreciate the moments we get to play together even more,” Hawkins said.

Pryor said she urges all of the Newman community to be safe in these times, especially with the recent spike.

“We all need to continue to be as diligent as possible with completing the self-screening tool each day, wearing masks, maintaining the six feet rule and washing hands regularly,” Pryor said. “The positivity rate in Sedgwick County continues to climb and we have to do our part to control the spread.”

Although practice is prohibited currently, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are still slated to start their season on Nov. 18 at home.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics