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County’s COVID-19 restrictions complicate Stanford athletics

County temporarily prohibits contact sports, imposes quarantine travel restrictions

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Stanford’s football and basketball teams will not be allowed to practice or host games on campus as a result of more stringent COVID-19 restrictions issued by Santa Clara County public health officials on Saturday amid a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The revised public health order complicates the teams’ already variable scheduling and could impact the University’s plan to bring frosh and sophomores to campus for the winter quarter.

The county order temporarily prohibits professional, collegiate and youth activities “that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports,” effective Monday through Dec. 21, unless extended. The new restrictions will also require a 14-day quarantine for individuals entering the county following travel of more than 150 miles.

Stanford football and men and women’s basketball teams will have to find alternate sites to practice and play scheduled games during the three-week period. The two-week quarantine requirement could create logistical challenges for student-athletes playing away and living on campus.

The football team, coming off of a win against Cal on Friday, planned to end the season with an away game against Washington on Dec. 5 and a home game against Oregon State on Dec. 12. 

When previous Santa Clara County restrictions in September and early October prevented the team from practicing on campus, the football team opted to hold their preseason practices at Woodside High School in San Mateo County. Players were able to return to Stanford facilities in mid-October when the county was moved to the “orange” tier of coronavirus restrictions. Stanford head coach David Shaw ’95 said at an October press conference that if restrictions were placed on sports activities, the team would return to Woodside High School.

The Cardinal women’s basketball team has four home games scheduled during the three-week period, including one tomorrow. It remains to be seen whether this game will be played. 

Men’s basketball will be traveling this upcoming week for a tournament and will be required to quarantine when they reenter the county. The team also has games scheduled at Stanford for Dec. 7, 9, 19 and 21. 

Stanford Athletics did not immediately respond to The Daily’s request for comment so it is not immediately clear what action the University will take to comply with the restrictions. The county has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the past several weeks, reporting a record-high 760 new cases and 239 hospitalizations on Saturday. 

In an email to the Stanford community outlining the new health directives Sunday evening, Associate Vice Provost for Environmental Health and Safety Russell Furr wrote that “the university is reviewing these issues now and will be in further touch with student-athletes and coaching staffs as details become available.”

The new restrictions and surge in cases and hospitalizations in the county and across the state could impact Stanford’s plan to provide on-campus housing to first-years, sophomores and transfer students for the winter quarter. Furr acknowledged the uncertainty of the situation and wrote that Stanford is continuing to monitor health conditions with county officials and medical experts, with more information forthcoming. 

Stanford has previously stated that if conditions worsen and prevent it from hosting first-years and sophomores, the University will notify students before Stanford’s winter close on Dec. 14, although students with special circumstances will be accommodated for on-campus housing regardless of the decision.

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Cameron Ehsan is a desk editor for the News section and the engagement editor. He is studying biology and American studies. Contact him at cehsan ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.