By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer
The Baylor Line’s 50th anniversary season has begun with new rules of conduct, including Bluetooth bracelets to be worn for COVID-19 contact tracing. In a press release posted on Thursday, the university outlined the precautions for the first home game, which will be against Kansas on Saturday.
In addition, the Line will be limited to “approximately 500 students” and will “move directly to the designated student seating section to avoid the risk of extended close proximity” instead of forming the typical tunnel for the football team.
Facemasks and social distancing will also be required throughout the game.
The press release also said 300 “upper division students” with tickets to the game will be randomly chosen and contacted via email for rapid COVID-19 testing, with a negative result required for entry.
Jason Cook, vice president for marketing and communications and chief marketing officer, said 150 tests were conducted on Thursday and 150 are planned for Friday. These tests will be counted in the Baylor surveillance testing numbers.
Cook said that the university has been facing the question of the return of the Baylor Line since spring.
“Student Life has been working in conjunction with athletics over the past several months on ways in which the Baylor Line could be safely run in accordance with the University’s COVID-19 health and safety parameters,” Cook said. “These plans were reviewed by the University’s Health Management Committee and ultimately approved by the President’s Council.”
The most significant change may be the requirement of Bluetooth bracelets. These will be assigned to each student with a Line ticket for use during the game and will “register potential close contacts” for Baylor’s contract tracing team in the event that a student or students test positively for COVID-19 after the game, the press release said.
The bracelets will also sound an “auditory beep” if students are “within 6 feet of another student for more than 15 minutes” when lining up to get into McLane Stadium. The press release included a privacy disclaimer and said this data will not be “shared or stored outside the University” and will be used solely for contact tracing.
After the Line run, bracelets will be “reprogrammed to accommodate for increased proximity while in the student seating area,” Burchett said.
Despite these “difficult changes in protocol,” Burchett said the university is grateful to still be able to have the Baylor Line this season. At the same time, their top priority is keeping everybody safe.
The press release concluded with an announcement of the Baylor Line’s 50th anniversary celebration plans, which will take place on Oct. 31 at the game against TCU. Plans are set to be released via social media and the Baylor website and will be held “both virtually and in-person.”
“The Baylor Line has and will continue to evolve to serve our students in the best ways possible,” Burchett said. “While this will be a running of the Line unlike anything we’ve seen previously, our students will continue to carry the overwhelming support and spirit of the entire Baylor Family into McLane Stadium as we look forward to the next 50 years of this cherished tradition.”