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Amid a nationwide surge of COVID-19 cases, the University of Michigan announced a new policy requiring either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for all indoor athletic events. The new requirement is in addition to the existing face covering mandate while inside University buildings.
The policy specified that those who tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to show a public health release letter or a letter from a doctor that is dated within 90 days of the sporting event. The policy will be in effect until further notice, according to the Michigan Athletics website.
LSA freshman Sara Taub is on the Michigan dance team and performs at women’s basketball games. Taub said the new requirements made her feel more safe at athletic events and was glad people were still able to attend, despite the surge.
“You want a lot of people coming to the games to support the teams, and you just want to be as safe as possible so that we can keep going to the games because last year that was impossible,” Taub said. “I think that support is so important, especially for (dance). We just had our nationals … it was so much better being able to experience that energy live, in person.”
Taub also said random asymptomatic testing would make her feel more comfortable attending all events on campus.
“Other universities (are) doing random testing for students, and I feel like … that would be a more effective way (to minimize the spread of COVID-19) than just kind of testing when you want to or when you need to,” Taub said. “I just think that that would help eliminate the amount of cases or just bring attention to the positive ones.”
In an email to The Michigan Daily, Associate Athletic Director Kurt Svoboda wrote that athletic events will accept photo vaccine cards, and the policy will remain until further notice. Additionally, at-home rapid tests will not satisfy the negative test requirement.
“In early January, the requirements were put in place in anticipation of rising cases stemming from COVID’s omicron variant while striving to provide the safest and best possible in-person experiences for our students and other community members,” Svoboda wrote. “Other indoor ticketed events had previously instituted these policies.”
Engineering freshman David Grover said he went to the Michigan wrestling match against Penn State Friday. Grover also said he knows more people who tested positive compared to last semester, and he believes the virus will become as common as the flu..
“Yeah, it’s a lot more intense than it was (last semester),” Grover said. “I haven’t really had anybody in my family or friend group that had ever (tested positive) … (I think) it’s gonna become like the flu where people get it every year, it kind of rolls through and then it’ll subside for a bit. And there will be vaccines that come out that change yearly, depending on what variant there is and it’s just kind of what it is at this point.”
Grover said he wasn’t asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative test when he went to the match. He said while he thinks vaccination and testing are effective in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, he is skeptical of its enforcement.
“As far as sporting events go, because I didn’t get asked for any proof of vaccination or testing, I can’t speak on whether any of the people who didn’t go through that student entrance (followed the University’s policy),” Grover said. “I didn’t see if there were any altercations, I didn’t see if anybody just went through. I have no idea if they actually did check it. So I don’t think I can speak on whether it’s even changing anything inside of the event.”
Kinesiology and Business junior Evan Jaeger said he attended hockey and gymnastics competitions this semester. Jaeger said he has not had to show his vaccination status at some of the sporting events he’s attended.
“(University events) require vaccinations,” Jaeger said. “Personally, at some events, I haven’t had to show my vaccine or anything. Like at gymnastics, I showed my MCard and that’s my vaccine they say. But at hockey, sometimes they don’t ask for the MCard.”
Jaeger also said he didn’t know if the policy would be successful in reducing COVID-19.
“I don’t know, I don’t really know how many cases there have been from (sporting events), or if there’s been a spike or anything,” Jaeger said. “But from my knowledge of these measures, I would assume it’d be effective.”
After the policies the University put in place for athletics events and in other indoor areas on campus, Grover said that University is doing the best they can during the pandemic.
“I think that going online, like they did for the majority of last year, would have been a bit disheartening,” Grover said. “If you go online after a break, like many other colleges did, I feel like then whenever you go back in person, you’re still going to have the same spike in cases as everybody comes back together…. It’s just how you control the environment when it is happening.”
Daily Staff Reporter Rachel Mintz can be reached at email@example.com.