Unvaccinated athletes get COVID tests every week

Sherra Owino, Copy Editor

While COVID-19 isn’t as new as it had been, Madison College students and athletes are still navigating the ebb and flow of developments from this modern pandemic. Athletes who have not received the COVID vaccine are required to get a weekly test and provide a negative result, according to Associate Athletic Director, Jason Verhelst.
“The teams we compete against are from Illinois,” Verhelst explained. “There’s a mandate in Illinois that, to be on a campus, you either need to be vaccinated or show a negative test within the week.”
This means that the unvaccinated athletes have a choice to either get weekly tests done or not participate.
As a region that is predominantly Illinois teams, a conversation took place to decide protocol moving forward. A decision was reached that, with every competition, a declaration form is to be provided that verified all athletes are either vaccinated or provided a negative COVID test. This form is sent out ahead of each competition.
More students are getting vaccinated and Verhelst hopes more will continue to do so in the future for those who are able. Only unvaccinated athletes need to provide the negative test result.
According to Verhelst, this process has been “great.” Athletes are doing what they need to do in order to compete and haven’t really had problems. Verhelst mentioned there’s a wealth of free off campus testing sites where students can go and is referenced on the school’s website.
So, how are the athletes themselves viewing this rule?
For this answer, a survey with various questions was sent out for Madison College athletes to complete anonymously. Here’s what was discovered:
As with the rest of the world during the pandemic, our college athletes have varying reactions that expand the whole length of the spectrum. For some, they’re pleased with the rule and feel more comfortable and safe around their non-vaccinated teammates. They have hopes that this will encourage more vaccinations.
“I feel that to play, you should be required to get the vaccination. Without receiving the vaccination, you are putting your teammates at risk regardless of the tests.”
“I believe it was the right thing to do, to apply COVID testing to players that are not vaccinated to encourage them to take the vaccine and protect each other from this virus.”
“I very much appreciate it because my dad is high risk and it feel like a safe the way things are being handled.”
“It makes sense to me. I see it as a way for Madison College to convince students to get the vaccine. They are not forcing the vaccine on anyone and providing an alternative but I know getting tested weekly is annoying. Honestly, I feel more comfortable that my unvaccinated teammates are getting tested because I know they aren’t practicing social distancing while being unvaccinated.”
“There is no rule to be vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, you must get tested twice a week. I think this rule is important and should stay in place for the time being to keep everyone safe. I think everyone in college over 18 should be vaccinated– if eligible.”
On the other side, there are those who do not see it as being fair and, instead, creates another item in an already busy schedule, such as these examples:
“Driving 20 minutes every week for a COVID test. Losing money and time.”
“I think it’s unfair and very difficult. Getting test scores back in a timely manner isn’t easy. It makes it difficult for me and makes me not want to play with the circumstances.”
“Takes a lot of time out of my day to get to a testing site and get tested. Also, very stressful that I didn’t get my results back in time to practice for days and had no choice but to miss.”
“I think that if people who are vaccinated can still get COVID then they should have to be tested weekly if we do.”
Furthermore, some understand the necessity and, while they may not agree with how everything is being done, are just doing what they need to do in order to play.
“I think every week is a little excessive, but I understand. But I also think that it should and always should be a personal choice to get a vaccine or not. I think it’s disrespectful and disgusting how some staff use their power to push the vaccine on us.”
There seems to be some gratitude on both sides that: a) testing is more flexible this year and that symptoms don’t need to be prevalent to acquire a test or b) vaccinations are an option.
Whether on a court, field or diamond, Madison College athletes should be proud of the dedication they give for their sport no matter where they fall on the spectrum.