How is your team planning for the 2021 season in terms of safety?

In the lead up (should we still have a 2021 season), we still need to do things like recruitment and general shop readiness. We’re requiring masks at all times, getting rid of all snacks and water supplies, requiring a temperature check prior to coming to our shop, exchanging our fingerprint reader for a mobile-based timeclock, doing remote work as much as possible (we changed to onshape this past season, so that helps with designing remotely), hand sanitizer will be available at all times, developing procedures for sanitizing tools after use (we’re thinking of personal boxes team members can place the tools they’re using so nobody else grabs them). So what is your team planning? My worry is that if we’re still concerned enough about COVID-19 come January to implement these procedures, it’s probably unsafe to have a 2021 season altogether.

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I’m not a medical professional or anything, but I would think that outright removing food and water would be a bad idea. our bodies need to stay well nourished I would think. Maybe consider creating a strict set of rules for eating/hydrating safely. I guess I don’t know how long your team members spend in your lab at a time, but I dunno, that’s my 2¢

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It will heavily depend on what guidelines and expectations the district puts in place, which we are obligated to follow. After we learn about those, we can decide what extra steps we personally will be taking.

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Generally on weeknights, 3 hours. In terms of water, I meant from the water cooler that we have in our office. It’s just a high-contact zone that people use right before people put something in their mouth. People bringing in their own water from home is probably fine. On Saturdays, we’re adjusting our hours to start after lunch (we used to have parents volunteer to bring food), and we’re ending before dinner time.

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The current plan for us is remote meetings until further notice. We have no concrete plans for meeting physically, though I imagine it’ll be specific subteams only for a while with obvious safety measures like masks and such.

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Remote meetings for now. More will be planned after initial guidance from our school district is released in mid-July.

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I suppose quarantining the whole team in the robotics lab two weeks before kickoff and not letting them leave until after our last competition isn’t really a viable option

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Some teams just don’t have the drive

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Our school has been working on a few guidelines which will take place for the 1st quarter, and revisted after each subsequent quarter.
Only 1/2 of the students will be on campus at a time. Wednesdays is no school for students, as the faculty and staff will be wiping down classroom and common areas such as restrooms, cafeteria tables, etc.
Because of this, most of it will carry over to afterschool programs as well. We plan to only meet with students who attend school that day in our program, to stay afterschool. No Robotics on Weds. Going to try and avoid any weekends since we plan to have an extended build season starting in August to Week 1 of competitions…if there are competitions to attend.

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“Virtual first”. That’s going to be our #1 item at the moment. Everything else is still evolving in terms of plans but that’s the big one.

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  • Contact tracing questionnaire for people who have tested positive or been exposed to someone who has / traveled to high risk areas / etc.
  • Limit the number of people at meetings to 7 students, 10 total maximum
  • Temperature checks at the door
  • Limit the number of people that can gather at tables / work benches
  • masks at all times
  • extra fans to help ventilation system increase air exchanges
  • clean all work surfaces and tools with disinfecting cleaner
  • No communal food or drink (students are allowed to bring their own snacks and water)

Constantly monitoring state guidance and adjusting accordingly.

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It looks like we won’t be able to use our normal meeting/working space at the university this summer/fall, so we’re doing as much virtual as we can. We’ve got our (regional winning) robot from 2020 so for us probably the most critical aspect, (from a team sustainability perspective), is getting the mechanical side of the house some sort of hands on experience with at least assembly and wiring and such (previous thread Teaching Manufacturing in the Covid-19 era? ).

I really like your ideas about temperature scanning and personal toolboxes.

Given the current rate of new infections in the US, I am fairly pessimistic there will be a 2021 season unless (a) we have an effective vaccine before year end, and/or (b) people stop stupid public behavior (in this part of the country, the return of yucky winter weather may help that).

It’s possible that if Covid-19 follows the three spikes of the 1918 flu, we might not see any FRC events for three years.

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Although I rail against robotics becoming a recognized “sport”, we followed the guidelines established by the SC High School League - social distancing, questioning, and masks - when we met with the team’s leadership. We had 8 members and 8 mentors attend. Our shop is big enough to accommodate 27 people with social distancing. We had to continuously remind the membership to keep 2 meters apart. They would begin to slowly migrate towards each other. We will not have a meeting with the entire team’s membership probably for months (sadly, not until next summer).
We offer bottled water, soda, prepackaged (commercial) snacks, etc. So, we won’t (shouldn’t) have the “Water Cooler” jog jam.
Although we are following the SCHLC’s guidelines, we are waiting for the school district to decide upon how schools will reopen.

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Some of the latest guidance coming out of the CDC is suggesting that the transmission of this virus from person to person is almost completely due to airborne transmission. If further research continues to confirm these initial findings, then the guidelines will focus more and more on limiting the shared air. Contact with surfaces may not be a transmission path that we need to worry about.

If that is the case, then masks, good ventilation, physical separation and low density meetings will be our priorities. We would probably be able to relax the restrictions around the common touchpoints.

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It comes down to timing. Will we know by the time we have to pay registration whether or not the team can attend a tournament? (Either due to FIRST cancelling or the district nixing travel).

I’m a bit pessimistic just now regards any meetings in the fall. We could pull things together if we get the go ahead to work after Christmas break but 1) not ideal and 2) ‘if’

T. Wolter

  • Contactless hand sanitizing station
  • COVID-19 signage
  • Contactless thermometer
  • UV sterilization cart (inspired by 1305) for our hand tools, computer parts, mice, and whatever else we may need to sterilize.
  • Vision system to enforce physical distancing
  • Alexa skill for contact tracing without pen and paper
  • Designated computer stations for each team member
  • Chair covers
  • Limit 10 people per meeting
  • Mask wearing
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Be careful with UVC sterilization.

Not just from the physical danger that UVC light poses to living beings, but also for anything made out of plastic resins that you attempt to frequently sterilize.

Most plastic resins, especially for products designed primarily for indoor use, are not UV stabilized. The plastic itself will start to photo-chemically break down when exposed to UV light., particularly the higher energy UVC light.

At best, you’ll likely quickly shorten the life of the product in question. At worst case, the relatively safe plastics may degrade into more harmful substances. E.g. non-UV stabilized polycarbonate can degrade in UV light back into its precursor molecules including BPA.

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If unable to meet in the workshop how are you planning to engage your robotics students virtually? Screen Fatigue seems to be hitting a lot of students with online classes.

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