Has Covid-Delta killed the 2022 season?

So Covid-Delta is surging. Schools and cities are implementing Mask Mandates.

Is FRC going to happen this school year?

10 Likes

Get your jab and save the season.

98 Likes

If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to crawl back down into my little hidey hole in the ground for another 2-3 months so I don’t have to think about that. Come ask me again when that time is up.

9 Likes

You know, I was hoping that I wouldnt be correct on this one, but at the rate we’re going…

7 Likes

I’m pretty confident in FTC because we managed remote events last year, but FRC seems … doubtful.

1 Like

4 years and 1 real season would be a helluva time.

I’ve got my hopes though. Get vaxxed, wear your mask, pls

15 Likes

I’m not sure I could handle another virtual season… here’s hoping people just get the dang shot. I’m an eternal optimist and I think we’ll be able to compete next season. A lot can and will change in the next 6-8 months.

13 Likes

I think we’ll see official play this year.

Will it be in all the places we’re used to? Depends on how much residents of those regions want to goof around rather than getting vaccinated.

42 Likes

To my very limited understanding, masks are coming back because there is evidence showing that they still help to drastically reduce the spread of the virus/variants even when subjects are double vaxed.

If anything, I’d say masks coming back is a good step towards events coming back!

9 Likes

I don’t know that there’s much of a point in speculating on it at the moment. I think they’ll have a way to give us something in terms of competition in areas where the necessary measures can be put in place, but if the past two years have taught me anything, it’s that whatever happens happens.

1 Like

But if we don’t speculate on what is to come, what else will I possibly be able to waste my time with on now???

7 Likes

If all FRC-age participants are eligible for the vaccine sometime soon (still waiting on those under 14…), then it can certainly be saved.

The delta variant isn’t a reset button, it’s not March 2020. We need to make sure the vaccinated don’t spread it to those who can’t be vaccinated yet, and we should wear masks at gatherings.

Delta surges in countries with worse vaccination rates than ours (UK, India) were bad, but also started turning around in 4-6 weeks. It’s currently the beginning of August.

Take precautions, but ultimately we’ll be fine. Maybe hold off on maskless in person meetings for another couple weeks…

14 Likes

*In the US it’s anyone 12 and older, so all FRC aged kids are eligible. But the different countries thing will be interesting.

3 Likes

To the OP. It’s difficult to say. The amount of off-seasons being cancelled due to Delta is definitely concerning, but I also agree with the sentiment that this isn’t March 2020 either. One thing to consider is that FIRST economically cannot afford to lose ANOTHER season, nor can the suppliers who rely on us and our robots. Nor can teams, who will have seniors who have still never competed, and any knowledge passing down the pipelines will begin to shatter without students who’ve been there. Nor can I imagine the detrimental effect to the morale of the students still in the programs.

So basically, a 2022 cancellation may be a death sentence, if not for the program then for many many teams. And this isn’t even beginning to discuss FLL and FTC and the effects of the collapse of feeder programs.

While FRC aged kids can be vaccinated, at least in the US, what about FLL? We have a school which refuses to require masks, where several students will be going in person while others will be homeschooled, and studies suggesting up to 70% of school aged kids could become infected within 3 months without proper mitigation. Do we mix and match the homeschooled and in-person kids to have a season? Do they do the virtual thing again, which denied several of our students any hands on access to the robot? I don’t know, and I fear that the answer could have detrimental effects on our communities FLL ecosystem.

Basically, the answer isn’t definitively yes, but it’s not impossible either. I just pray we don’t have to force kids through another year of disappointment. They’re resilient, but everyone has their limits.

5 Likes

I suspect international travel to events may be off the table. We can get a reasonable sense of what is going on here, and I watch the UK as a bellwether based on past trends. But data from other countries is less trustworthy.

The question of whether FRC will happen is tied to the question of whether in person school will happen. And the answer is similar. This is the existential moment. Scratch another year of in person school and public education will not recover in this generation. Much damage has already occurred. The willingness to fund existing schools will drop and the extent to which the higher potential students/families will go elsewhere will soar. Take away, oh, the 20% highest potential students from any system and cut the funding by 20% (as much is based on head counts) and what is left will be less an educational system than a virtual mirage of one.

Likewise with FRC. I expect the most marginal teams are already out for the season ahead. The elites will always come back, although it will take a while for them to get back to their usual wizardry. The teams in the middle, and that is where we are, have one year to re-establish ourselves. A cold stop now and FRC will have to figure out how to exist on a much smaller scale. And in doing so the opportunities lost will be skewed towards the less affluent communities. As with so much other covid related impact.

I’m OK with masks and will wear one out of courtesy, although I don’t share the faith that they do much in a long term situation.* I think a vaccination mandate for attendance at an event is tricky but not unreasonable. Negative test before participation like getting on an airplane? Sure. Spread out the pits? I’d like that.

If not now, then when? There will be a constant parade of “variants” and then we’ll be shown the extent to which normal viral infections can be bad news. Build season has always been right in the teeth of influenza season, and what team has not had various crud knock down attendance for a few days each season?

Risk/benefit analysis. How much benefit is there to cancelling school, sports, FIRST? How much will be lost, in some cases irrevocably, by doing so?

T.Wolter

  • To be clear, wearing them when visiting grandma at the nursing home is a very good idea. A first grade classroom full of wiggly kids whose default behaviours involve fingers and noses…over the course of a day much less a year…uh…not the same thing.
5 Likes

It’s certainly concerning, especially with the odds of breakthrough infections increasing with Delta (and potentially with future variants as well). I got back from a trip a week or so ago. I was down visiting my grandma, who’s in an assisted living situation at this point. I had to quarantine for a week after getting back (while waiting to take a test and get results) after finding out that 20 people in her retirement community (including 2 staff and 2 residents in the closed wing she’s in) had breakthrough infections while we were there. It’s not terribly fun to be in that situation, particularly for my mom, who was down there with me and is at a higher risk - even though we’ve both been fully vaccinated for months. It has ripple effects too, as my mom helps care for my sister’s kid (only 22 months old!) during the work day most weeks, and was suddenly unavailable for a week.

Now, imagine we extend that to an event. 1000 people and their families going through that. Depending on how quickly we get the word, potentially their entire school as well. No one wants the season to be cancelled or virtual this year. But there’s also so very little that any of us can do to impact the overall situation - you can get vaccinated and encourage everyone you know to do the same, but that only goes so far.

I could certainly see events being restricted in certain areas depending on the infection rate. For example, 1/3 of US cases last week were in two states. If we were looking at holding events right now, those states would be at higher risk of being cancelled than states with low rates currently.

7 Likes

I think it’s going to depends on if FIRST insists on either the season will happen for everyone (around the world) or for no one at all.

Regionally speaking, I feel that after getting a virtual competition season (March to June) that we had (New England under NE FIRST), we will be more prepared but unfortunately virtual competition trends to be more ‘programming’ oriented and less than ‘an overall’ team like what we are used to. But I do have faith that if we have to do another virtual year, NE First will be able to come up with a plan that will involved other functions of the team.

2 Likes

A bit of context for those who aren’t American (or who just miss context): Florida and Texas combine for about 15% of the US population. So 33% of the nation’s cases is punching well above its weight.

4 Likes

Yes and no. Looking at current 2021-2022 registration (includes pre-reg teams) 3505 out of 4397 FRC teams are USA or about 80% so even if this meant that some countries couldn’t have events the impact is not going to be that significant to the overall program.

This seems more likely to be the case and to my point above while it sucks for those teams outside of the USA especially for champs the total impact isn’t that bad. Countries could have their own national championship. Looking at non-USA team counts each one of these areas could have their own national championship and even possible do an international skills competition:

2021-2022 registrations so far for non-USA countries that would be large enough to have their own events.

Canada: 315
Turkey: 134 (crazy Turkey is now #2)
Mexico: 96
China: 89
Israel: 72
Australia: 58
Taiwan: 36

Brazil: 16 (probably not enough here)

Now this is interesting: FIRST has widely taken the policy of let each region/district/partner make their own call on this. If that is the case I don’t know if states like Florida and Texas would choose to restrict events but they may have mask mandates.

1 Like

I think the sociopolitical factors will force the upcoming school year to be much closer to “normal” than last year was, regardless of what the Delta-variant does. How that impacts field trips and cross-community events like FRC competitions remains to be seen.

The Gamma variant, however, could change things. If Gamma is indeed more infectious in children, as Brazil’s outbreaks suggest it may be, that could force school closures again. As jaded as I may be about the COVID response, I have to think if children start dying that even the skeptics will take it more seriously. Although I’ve been wrong about partisan reactions to children’s welfare before…

9 Likes