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Athletic Trainers Respond to COVID-19 With New Roles

Sophia Zhao ’23 Assistant Sports Editor
With regard to the global pandemic, Hopkins has designed the hybrid learning model to give students the best learning experience possible, with upgrades to facilities and technology infrastructure, as well as many new safety and hygiene policies and protocols.
As part of the hybrid model, the athletic trainers have taken on new responsibilities to enforce these protocols and make sure everyone is safe.

One of the biggest changes is the addition of the Magnus Health Screening that now takes place every morning. “Athletic trainer[s] are involved in running the Magnus Health Screening in the morning and notifying those faculty/staff, students, and outside contractors to ensure compliance. Individuals who are non- compliant are screened [by us],” said Don Bagnall, the Director of Medical Services and Head Athletic Trainer for sports medicine. “A good deal of the summer was spent researching, creating the survey, speaking with Magnus, working with our Technology Department, and preparing the survey for the use of our whole community. Every adult and student that is regularly on campus completes the survey each day they will be present. We also helped the security team set up screening procedures at the gate houses for visitors to be screened upon arrival to campus,” added Jillian Gleason, Assistant Athletic Trainer.

The new procedures were decided, “in consultation with the eight Committees of the COVID-19 Task Force established by [Head of School Kai] Bynum this past spring. We also had input from our consulting physicians. In addition we are fortunate to have many Hopkins Alums who are well-connected to the medical community,” said Bagnall.

The new protocols and procedures are constantly being updated and improved upon as there is new information and the school year goes on. “A lot of our protocols were decided by looking at guidelines from bodies like the CDC and the CT Dept. of Public Health, and figuring out the best way to implement them at Hopkins,” said Gleason. “A lot of the faculty and staff spent time this summer researching and meeting about the best way to keep campus safe. For our part, Don [Bagnall], Christina [Balsamo] and I met over Zoom once a week to discuss safety procedures, screening procedures, etc. And things changed a lot from our thoughts at the beginning of the summer to the end of it. I am sure some of our protocols will change as the world and the pandemic change and shift as well. We have changed so much in eight months, and we are learning more and more every day.”

With all these new challenges and duties, the athletic trainers have had to adjust to changes in their daily schedules. Gleason said, “It takes a while to get into the swing of things. And so much is different! My office, which is usually located in the Athletic Training room, is now in the room that used to be the weight room. It's very strange being apart from my department, because we all spend so much time together in a normal year. And I am definitely spending less time with students, which stinks.”

Although the new procedures can seem burdensome and hard to follow, they are critical in keeping the community safe. Bagnall said, “I think they are safe and sufficient to protect us from the virus. However, the basic guidelines need to be followed; wear a mask; social distance; stay home if feeling unwell and have an elevated temp; and wash your hands correctly or use sanitizer frequently.” Gleason added, “Epidemiologists have found that some of the best and easiest ways for us to remain safe is to practice social distancing, wear masks, and wash our hands frequently. Hopkins has provided ways for all of us to do all those things, which is great.” Bagnall and Gleason remind us, “our rules and safety procedures can only keep us safe if we follow them! Sometimes they are hard, but now more than ever, the decisions you make affect others. We all have to stay vigilant and stay safe, so that we may help protect the other people in our lives.”
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