Bates College on Tuesday revealed its plan for students returning to school in the fall, which will be nearly six months after the school shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to students returning to classes, Bates’ varsity athletic teams also will be able to hold meetings and practices for the upcoming year. The Bobcats‘ spring sports season was called off a few days before the school sent its students home to finish the school year remotely.
According to the news release on the Bates College website, student-athletes can:
• Participate in in-person gatherings with their teams, as long as they follow campus guidelines.
• Meet with their coaches.
• Engage in strength and conditioning workouts and other in-person activities aimed at improving skills and physical conditioning.
Also, teams can practice in groups as long as the campus guidelines are followed.
As for games, Bates is unsure how many games will be played this fall due to public health restrictions. The school’s conference, the New England Small College Athletic Conference has not made a decision about conference games being played. One of Bates’ instate conference rivals, Bowdoin College, has already canceled varsity athletics through Jan. 1, 2021, while another NESCAC school, Williams College, has canceled its fall sports season.
Bates believes there may be a chance to schedule non-conference games on a sport-by-sport basis while following the proper guidelines. The school said that if a sport can’t be played in the fall, there is a chance it can be played in the spring. Doing so would require NESCAC approval and a waiver from the NCAA.
Bates’s fall varsity sports are cross country (men’s and women’s), field hockey, football, golf (men’s and women’s), rowing (men’s and women’s), soccer (men’s and women’s), tennis (men’s and women’s) and volleyball (women’s).
The NESCAC has also made changes to conference regulations for out-of-season sports:
• Varsity teams will be able to schedule athletic facilities for out-of-season activities, but schools must comply with state, local and institutional facilities-use restrictions to control the number of people using a facility at one time.
• Varsity coaches can supervise out-of-season activities in their sports. Student-athlete will be limited to activities overseen by coaches and athletic trainers.
• Winter sports practices start Oct. 15, rather than Nov. 1.
• Because Bates and other conference schools plan to transition to remote learning after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), winter sports competition will start Nov. 13, rather than Nov. 20. That allows teams more opportunities to play games before Thanksgiving, should the winter varsity season go forward.
Bates isn’t planning to offer intramural sports early this fall, though that could change later in the semester if safety practices can be maintained.
The school is, however, looking at expanding recreational offerings, both virtually and outdoors. Also, students and faculty will have access to fitness equipment, but it will be limited depending on health guidelines.