College of the Canyons athletic programs returned to campus this week to begin outdoor team strength and conditioning activities, guided by a stringent return-to-campus procedural plan designed to ensure the health and safety of student athletes, coaches and support staff.
“This is an important day for College of the Canyons and for cougar athletics,” Chuck Lyon, dean of physical education, kinesiology and athletics, and athletic director at the college, said in a prepared statement. “I am extremely thankful to our athletic department and sports medicine staff, our many partners on this campus and the staff at Henry Mayo Newhall Urgent Care, who have worked so diligently in developing a return plan that adheres to all county and state health guidelines and allows our student-athletes to safely return to what they love doing.”
More than 170 student-athletes and coaches representing 14 COC sports programs started the return to campus process on April 12.
All participants were required to undergo a COVID-19 symptom self-screening prior to coming onto campus. Upon arrival, student-athletes and coaches then underwent a temperature screening and proceeded to have a COVID-19 test performed by staff from Henry Mayo Urgent Care.
In addition to these initial screening procedures, all participants are required to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing as outlined by state and county health guidelines.
“Monday’s activities were designed to familiarize players and coaches with our adopted daily operations plan and ensure that everyone who participates has completed the necessary screenings, tests and educational processes prior to meeting in a team practice setting,” Chad Peters, COC associate athletic director, said in a prepared statement.
Team conditioning activities were expected to officially begin late this week, with student-athletes grouped into designated pods and each COC program confined to a single outdoor practice location. Scheduled 90-minute practice sessions will be staggered throughout the day with most teams meeting two or three times each week.
Indoor gymnasiums, common areas, locker rooms and equipment storage areas will remain closed to student-athletes. Designated bathroom facilities have been established.
Additionally, unique entrance and exit routes have also been established for each outdoor athletic facility, along with the adoption of a number of new equipment and facility cleaning and disinfectant practices.
Student-athlete daily COVID-19 symptom screenings and weekly testing will continue as teams continue to meet throughout the semester.
“The health and safety of our campus remains the paramount concern,” added Peters, “yet, at the same time, we are excited to be able take these important first steps and see our student-athletes and coaches begin the return to traditional team activities.”
The COC athletic department’s return to campus procedural plan was designed in accordance with the California Community College Athletics Association, Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine, and American College Health Association guidelines, federal, state and local requirements, and the Santa Clarita Community College District COVID-19 Containment, Response, and Control Plan.
COC athletic programs have been out of action since March 2020 following the CCCAA’s initial postponement, and eventual cancellation, of the spring 2020 season due to the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
The college subsequently opted out of participating in shortened fall/winter and spring 2020-21 sports seasons that would have occurred during the spring 2021 semester.
“Official competition is still off the table for this semester,” said Lyon, “but we felt it was important to get our players and coaches safely back on campus to begin working toward the goal of returning to play for the fall 2021 and spring 2022 seasons.”