Five Canisius teams on pause as COVID cases rise

Due to five Canisius teams having a COVID-19 positivity rate over 3%, a temporary pause was put in place for all of their athletic activities. (Adam Gorski/The Griffin)

All Canisius athletic teams went on temporary pause over the weekend and five teams remain on pause due to increased percentage levels of COVID-19 positivity as of Wednesday afternoon, a Canisius athletics spokesperson confirmed to The Griffin.

Canisius athletic teams went on pause on Friday evening after regular surveillance testing showed that the numbers increased, prompting the athletic department to not allow teams to practice while they assessed the situation and work with their own protocols, as well as the protocols put forth by Erie County.

“Just to make sure we were doing everything right and doing everything safely,” an athletic department spokesperson said.

Testing of student-athletes is being done in pods on a “grid system”, where a given number of athletes from a given team will be tested one day, then another small group from another team will be tested, so on and so forth. The athletic department conducts most of its tests at a COVID testing facility on Perry Street through the New York State Department of Health and it the responsibility of the student-athletes to report their results back to the school, and are tested if they feel symptoms of the virus. Similar to testing, teams are practicing in small groups, like they have been the entirety of the fall.

In an effort for student privacy, the athletic department will not confirm which teams are currently on pause. The threshold for mandating a pause is if a team’s positivity rate is above 3%. Once an infection rate drops below 3%, they are permitted to begin practicing again. The teams with a positivity rate under 3% did restart practicing Wednesday but they could have on Tuesday, but the NCAA had mandated Tuesday be a day off for all colleges nationwide due to the presidential election.

The athletic department does not have a source of where the outbreak began, and that was why the pause was put in place, so they could figure out what was happening and what to do. It comes at a time where the numbers for Canisius as a whole is the highest it has been all semester, with 27 confirmed positive tests campus-wide in the past seven days as of Wednesday, the school announced. It is currently unclear how many of those positives are student-athletes.

“It’s not like one person can be pinpointed on all of this, it’s a variety of things. That’s why the pause was put in place on Friday was to kind of get our arms around it and be like ‘okay, what are we dealing with here, let’s make sure our student-athletes, our staff and our athletic training staff are in the best possible position and be safe with it’ to kind of mitigate some things,” the spokesperson said.

“While the uptick is not great news, it shows our plan and process are working in identifying cases early,” said Canisius Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Dentino in a campus-wide email.

In addition, the school also reduced the student capacity at the Penfold Gaeris fitness center by 50%.

Other schools, including fellow MAAC members Monmouth and Rider, have dealt with COVID-related shutdowns in athletic departments. That is sure to continue as the nation deals with the pandemic, which according to The Atlantic’s COVID-19 tracking project, the nation saw over 103,000 new positive tests on Wednesday. In Western New York, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that the positivity rate spiked to 5% on Tuesday, the highest it has been since the region began its current testing levels.

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