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

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


Some teams just don’t have the drive


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.

  • 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.


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.


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.


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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Please, no chin (or neck) protectors!

Added: The full story


How do you know the poor guy doesn’t have a permanent tracheostomy?

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I received an email from Amazon asking if I could answer a question regarding some masks I had purchased. The question was “why do people wear them as chinstraps?”…


It will be a busy year if you’re a safety captain!


If you’re lucky to get off a ventilator this is actually the reality of the situation for many people.

Well aware of that.


This is a good time to teach about Epistemology, “the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope […] the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.”

Some particulars – the importance of being a sophisticated consumer of information, thinking critically (rather than primarily processing things through emoting), and finding, engaging with and understanding primary sources (scientific papers in the case of Covid).

I’ve been shocked by how poorly many things have been widely reported, and profoundly disappointed that things have not improved very much at all. But beyond this, it’s fairly terrifying how things have played out at scale, in the public discourse, with the benefit of more data, etc.

It would be really nice if now, after a considerable span of time, there was a crisp set of guidelines based on consensus scientific theory that could just be cited here, ideally based on statistical sampling in different regions, current knowledge of the epidemiology of the disease, etc.

It would also be really nice if this weren’t so politicized, so driven by what amounts to superstitions (or even totemism), etc. This is where following the scientific method can really make a large difference, but most people do not default to processing things this way – it has to be taught and practiced. There are some good very books on the subject.