UNB has made the difficult decision to suspend all winter sports schedules, identifying the well-being of students as the utmost priority in such unprecedented circumstances.
UNB Reds Communications Manager Andy Campbell explained that the university has ceased all student athletic activities until further notice out of caution, including hockey, volleyball, swimming, and track and field.
This is an extension of the suspension of the fall term sports schedule, and the same protocols will be followed. There are limits to the number of people allowed in dressing rooms, and some teams cannot even access their team rooms and must dress before they arrive at a training session. All training sessions must be preluded by COVID-19 screening, temperature checks, and following social distancing guidelines.
This decision was reached by the university along with the athletics department after consultation with public health officials and sport governing bodies.
“The suspension of fall and winter sport schedules is the only change to the organisational structure of our teams,” Campbell said, promising that the organisational structure of sports will not be affected. “They continue to train and practice as diligently and intensely as they would if they were engaged in regular season and championship play, if not more intensely.”
There will be new considerations informing teaching and coaching practice in the future. Campbell explained that, as there is no competition, athletes and coaches will prioritize “online learning and professional development opportunities.”
With the university maintaining the alternative delivery method for winter semester classes, a lot of international students have decided to return to their home countries until in-person classes resume, and international student athletes have been given the same freedom.
Campbell said that international student athletes are under no obligation to return to Fredericton, but that those who do will begin training with their teammates after self-isolating for the required two weeks.
Student athletes also have the liberty to travel within or out of Canada during the holidays, provided they isolate before returning to activities with their team or within the community.
The cancellation of winter sports comes at a great disappointment to the student body, but the athletics department anticipates athletics will return to a more normal state in the 2021-22 seasons.