By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer, Video by Grace Smith | Broadcast Reporter
The university has decided to randomly test students that attended Saturday’s home football game against Kansas after fans appeared on TV not following Baylor’s guidelines.
Baylor will be testing 175 students each day from Wednesday until Friday and an additional 75 students on Saturday. If students are then chosen for next week’s random surveillance testing, they must be tested again.
Jason Cook, vice president for marketing and communications and chief marketing officer, said this testing is mandatory.
“Any non-compliance will be sent to student conduct for handling,” Cook said.
In an email sent out to football game attendees on Tuesday, the Baylor COVID-19 Testing Team said that a considerable number of students did not maintain physical distance or wear face masks in accordance with McLane Stadium policy.
“As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our campus community and progress to the end of the semester on campus, we are randomly testing 600 students who attended last Saturday’s football game,” the email said.
The tests will take place at the Respiratory Clinic at North Village Community Center from 9 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. on Saturday.
Jason Cook also said that there was extensive communication leading up to the game about COVID-19 guidelines.
“What we experienced for the Kansas game was quite similar to what other Big 12 and Texas universities have faced during their first football games of the season,” Cook said. “We now have two weeks to look at the lessons learned from this first game as we develop our strategy in advance of the Oklahoma State game on Oct. 17.”
Cook also said there was event and student life staff reminding students of the face mask requirement throughout the game.
“It is important to keep in mind that being in an outdoor environment may be quite different than sitting in a classroom,” Cook said. “This is one of the reasons why we are target testing 600 students who attended the game beginning tomorrow through the end of the week to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 and any potential spread.”
New Milford, Conn., freshman Anthony Izzo said while he didn’t run the Line, he attended the game and sat in the freshman Line student section.
“There was green and red tape,” Izzo said. “And you had to sit on the green tape. That’s all that I really saw.”
He said that he also saw workers come around and direct people to sit on the green tape when they began getting too close. He said they were threatened with ejection from the game.
Izzo said he thought COVID-19 restrictions were followed well overall as people that were asked to move to green complied.
He added that the front row of the Line section was repeatedly asked to move to the green section but would not comply.
“I saw a lot of people not wearing masks,” Izzo said. “But me and my friend group all wore them and we made sure to keep each other accountable.”
Jason Cook said that the social distancing beeping wristbands for the Baylor Line were working during the game as well.
Many students and alumni have expressed additional concerns with the lack of mask wearing and social distancing that occurred at last weekend’s home game.
Several Tweets have been posted by students, alumni and outside viewers with no connection to Baylor, about their frustrations with the lack of guideline following.
“Here’s a look at the Baylor crowd: Just FYI, #kufball has said you will be kicked out of the stadium if you don’t wear a mask/socially distance next Saturday,” Chasen said in the Tweet.
Kelly Craine, public information officer at Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, said that while it may be tough to wear a mask during the games, it needs to be done.
“I know that’s tough when you’re at a football game, and it’s a celebration and particularly when the Bears are doing so well. You want to cheer. You want to yell. You want to shout,” Craine said. “It’s tough, but we really need to do that. That’s going to make the difference going into the fall, into October.”
Craine said that McLennan County’s average weekly case count has stabilized.
“The reason that is is because people are social distancing. They’re wearing their mask,” Craine said. “So we want to maintain that, or if not, lower those numbers. Part of that is going to be everyone just working hard, maintaining social distancing and wearing a face mask.”
Craine encourages both students, alumni and the public to continue following COVID-19 guidelines.
“I would just remind everybody, don’t give up now,” Craine said. “We enjoyed this first game so let’s just keep enjoying. I want to have more games, I want to see more football games and to do that, we’ve got to make sure everybody is healthy.”