Kascia Muscutt, a soccer player and Associated Student Body president at Peninsula College, gets a COVID vaccination shot from a Jamestown Health Clinic staffer. (Photo courtesy of Peninsula College)

Kascia Muscutt, a soccer player and Associated Student Body president at Peninsula College, gets a COVID vaccination shot from a Jamestown Health Clinic staffer. (Photo courtesy of Peninsula College)

COLLEGE SPORTS: Most athletes vaccinated, but Peninsula Pirates still face COVID hurdles

PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College athletes will need to either be vaccinated or pass a COVID test before hitting the pitch or hardwood this school year.

Student athletes who have not been fully vaccinated will have a number of requirements in the coming school year, according to school official. Vaccinated student athletes will be allowed to participate in their sports without masks or social distancing, school officials noted in a Facebook post.

Rick Ross, associate dean of Athletics and Student Programs, said the school’s policy for student athletes was developed with guidelines from the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAC), Peninsula College’s policies and Clallam County Health Department.

“We spent quite a bit of time figuring that part out — which could change next week,” Ross said Tuesday.

Unvaccinated athletes will need to wear masks for travel, indoor training and when not playing in games; non-vaccinated coaches and staff must wear masks when indoors or not able to social distance outdoors.

Non-vaccinated athletes will have to pass a COVID test before playing.

“We do not yet know if those tests will be administered by the College or whether student athletes may have to go off-campus for that screening,” school officials said in a Facebook post.

Non-vaccinated athletes who travel from out-of-state will need to quarantine seven days before participating in team activities, they the school said, and personal travel during the year also would require a quarantine.

That holds true this fall for some soccer players at Peninsula College, Ross said, who didn’t have access to vaccinations. They’ll quarantine before they can join their respective teams, which began practice sessions for the upcoming season this week.

Unvaccinated athletes who are exposed to the virus will have to quarantine and miss practices and games, while vaccinated athletes will not, college officials said.

Ross said rules for student athletes may not align with those for students; a fully vaccinated team, for example, would have different health concerns and realities than an English class, he said.

Peninsula College was a pilot program of sorts last year for vaccinations, he said.

“We were ahead of the curve a little bit in getting our athletes vaccinated,” Ross said. “Hopefully, that translates to fewer games missed. [But] it’s definitely a moving target. We’ll take it week by week, and do our best.”

The only issue PC’s athletic teams had with COVID last school year, he said, was a small number of cases on the women’s basketball team prior to the season.

As for vaccinations, Ross said, there were only three out of 85 athletes this spring who chose not to be vaccinated. The vast majority of those athletes are returning to their teams this fall.

“It’s a fairly small percentage,” he said. “We’ve had some that have chosen not to, and some staff members. We respect that and try to work with everyone. Quite a few of them chose to get vaccinated, so they can take their masks off and play.”

In the college’s Facebook post, they wrote, “Peninsula College and the NWAC respect the choice of students and staff to make their own choice about vaccinations, but we also want to educate students and staff on the ramifications and be good partners with the State of Washington to help slow the spread of this virus and keep our community safe.”

For more about requirements for student athletes, see nwacsports.org/Sports Medicine.

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