Share your Covid event experiences! (2022 official events)

Now that we’ve seen how events plan to handle Covid-19, as we head into Week One, I’m very curious to see how those plans are executed.

Please share how Covid is handled at your events in this thread!

Some items to consider including:

  • Event name and location
  • What were the expected protocols?
  • How were communications of policies before the event? During the event?
  • Were the protocols followed as expected? Less strict? More strict?
  • Notice anything that worked really well/didn’t work too well? Lessons learned for future events?
  • (If you’re familiar with the local situation) What’s the Covid situation in your area? Were the FIRST event’s protocols in line with similar gatherings?
  • Anything else noteworthy?

Please only share if YOU attended the event as a participant, volunteer, or spectator (not second hand information or observations from watching a live stream) and it was an official event (there’s a separate thread for offseasons).

Load in for the first events of the season start so soon: 2022-03-03T00:00:00Z!

4 Likes

Does the official week 0 count as an official event? Regardless.

  • Week 0 in Bedford NH
  • People needed to be masked at all times over the mouth and nose
  • This was communicated in the welcome packet as well as opening ceremonies.
  • Adherence was pretty good. I think I saw one or two people who were unmasked, one of whom was asked to put one on and put it on, and another of whom I lost track of. I’d say like 95% of people were wearing them properly though for the whole time I saw them.
  • Masking imo is the bare minimum at this point, it got us through all of the off-seasons in New England with no known Covid cases as far as I’m aware, and week 0 is the same thus far as far as I know. I wouldn’t attend an FRC event where people weren’t masked, but I’m fairly comfortable attending ones where everyone is masked. Capacity limits may be needed based on the # of teams and venue size, but Week 0 really wasn’t overcrowded, with 25 teams in attendance.
  • Covid situation in NH hasn’t been great, but it’s definitely been getting better, coming off the Omicron wave. It is still in the “red”, but it’s more “that’s a lot of cases” than OMG THAT’S HOW MANY CASES? This was probably more strict than a lot of gatherings in the Granite State, but not particularly unheard of, and is in line with the Bedford school districts guidance.
  • I haven’t heard of any cases from the event, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been. I have tested negative via routine weekly PCR testing since the event, as well as at least 2 other people I know who attended the event.
3 Likes

Bumping this thread! How is/was Covid handled at your week ones? I’ll report back soon on CAPH which has a few hours left.

2 Likes

I guess I’m up again.

  • Granite State District (Salem NH)
  • Mentors had to fill out an attestation of health form for their entire team stating that everyone was either fully vaccinated or had a negative Covid test in the past 72 hours, as well as were experiencing no symptoms. Volunteers had to fill out a similar form for themselves, but they had to be fully vaccinated no exceptions. Masks were required, except for eating, and teams were limited to 25 people per team. There are no spectators.
  • These protocols are in line with NEFIRST’s official Covid protocols. There were two town halls about the new Covid protocols, as well as a link on the website (https://www.nefirst.org/frc-2022-covid-19-response), and any information was in welcome packets.
  • The protocols were mostly followed. I saw a few more masks under the nose this event than I did at week 0 or during the off-season, but still better compliance than I’d say in the general public. The 25 people per team was enforced via a wristband system.
  • I think the protocols worked well. Obviously its way too close to know if there were any exposures or infections from the event, but anything we can do to get kids and robots on the field is a win in my book. I think if the cases continue to decline that it could be worthwhile to remove the cap and or increase it, many teams were actually under it, and if the situation improves it’d be great to welcome more students (though I wouldn’t miss the less crowded stands). I personally would not be comfortable attending an event without a mask mandate at this time. I would be okay with extending the volunteer vaccine requirements to also allowing a negative test or recent recovery, at the very least for people with medical exemptions, as right now there is no exemption. As the weather gets warmer, I would like to see more outdoor eating options, as mask compliance during eating obviously isn’t really possible, and that has the most risk for spread. They had dividers between tables for eating which I liked.
  • The Covid situation has improved a lot even since week 0. On the Covidactnow dashboard, which has not changed its specs even after the CDC did, the area has moved from red to yellow, and overall cases are a lot lower across the state than they were, which I think combined with the masks and other requirements makes it a lot easier to justify holding large events. NEFIRST’s protocols were definitely stricter than the average in the area, but nothing felt egregious imo.
  • Nothing else to add.
1 Like

Lake Superior and Northern Lights Regional Duluth, MN

  • Masks required, vaccinations highly recommended. All attendees were expected to self screen every morning and avoid the event if presenting symptoms.
  • Policies were sent to all teams and volunteers and signage at the event was extensive.
  • I only heard of one person across both events that tried to cause an issue over wearing a mask and they left without incident. Masks on the field and in the pits was effectively 100%, in the stands it was less than 100% but the majority were wearing masks.
  • The lunch and breakfast for volunteers put 100+ people in a room without masks. I’d have preferred if they were staggered, but there is a cost to that.
  • Covid in the Duluth area is still high enough to be a concern but is trending downward with significantly less pressure on hospitals than there was 2 months ago. Other recent large events have been less strict, but as a multi-day, multi-state, high density event this one had a huge opportunity to become a spreading event.
  • Hueneme Port Regional (Ventura County, California)
  • Expected: Masks, vax or test verification
  • Communication: Slightly unclear document shared ahead of event, but got the point across. During event: not much communication. Small signs at check in.
  • Reality: roughly the same as expected. Masks were not enforced as strictly as I would like – seldom saw anyone ask unmasked folks to fix the situation. It seems that people were generally willing to comply with the masks, but weren’t thrilled about it. I believe much of this comes from recently relaxed state and local rules. The event elected to keep mask rules, even though they technically may not be required to. I also echo sentiments about volunteer lunch, and how it’s hard to do that in a small space without masks – tricky problem to solve, though.
  • Worked well: check in was easy, though I arrived at a low traffic time so hard to say if that experience was universal. Capacity felt solid for the space we had – not too crowded. Most people had a positive attitude towards requirements, even those who didn’t personally agree with them. Great ventilation.
  • Worked not so well: Mask enforcement.
  • Local situation: Covid rules in California recently were changed, and counties are still adopting policies. The protocols are much in line with how events were a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure if non-FIRST events have relaxed policies recently.

The venue felt ideal for the number of teams given the Covid situation. I’d be curious to hear from people who go to the same venue for the Ventura Regional next week with significantly more teams (I’ll be elsewhere).

Overall, good effort, and definitely some room for improvement. Glad to see events off to a good start, and appreciate the good intentions.

Keep it up – stay safe to stay open!

1 Like
  • FIM Detroit, Detroit Michigan
  • Everyone was expected to be masked
  • Emails were sent out to teams, as well as it being listed on the event data. I think it was announced each morning and maybe a couple of times during the event (Although I only heard it once)
  • I remember seeing one person unmasked, then the other person they were with said something and they put the mask on. And I only saw the one the whole weekend.
  • Things seemed to run smoothly
  • Everything else was run just like a regular event. I will note there were not many people there. (Given my personal experiences with events, since 2015, this was the fewest number of people I’ve ever seen at an event. I don’t know if that’s because of covid or just that most of the the teams were much smaller than I’m used to seeing.)
1 Like

I agree. Everyone I saw at Detroit was wearing a mask. And mostly real masks, some N95, some regular surgical masks, some cloth, but not gaiters or bandanas substituting as masks. Sometimes not always correctly, but they tried. One person I saw had a somewhat loose mask and had to pull it up over his nose whenever he approached someone. Of course people had to remove masks when they were eating.

I too thought attendance was low. In many places in the stands there were gaps between the teams.

But it was generally impossible to practice social distancing in the pits.

2 Likes

Well. I spoke too soon. Just got a notification that a volunteer tested positive. I’m getting tested later this week at my school and was volunteering, so I’ll update with my results. This is the first notification of exposure I’ve gotten at any NE FRC event, though I got one from an FLL event during the omicron wave. Hopefully the precautions prevent any sort of transmission. I particularly worry about volunteer meals, which is why I personally chose to eat those outside, which isn’t super practical due to the cold. We’ll see how it goes. Stay safe everyone.

1 Like

Port Hueneme
N95 etc masks prior : reality mostly anything goes apart from uncovered
Less strict
Worked well: Week 1 on time/ good time/ new venue /World high scores
Wonderful week 1 event, high level of play
Good catered food for volunteers

Things I noticed: Field needs a lot of re-taping after matches, short on HP official wear and confusion on where HP’s go. Hopefully week 2 that is sorted out

How is/was Covid handled at your week two events?

I’m on the RPC for CAOC, and things went mostly according to our plans, though I’d prefer for an outside observer to share their impressions.

AZ North…masks were required, and my wild guess is around 25% were unmasked (yes, including me, I just can’t seem to combine glasses and a mask effectively). I never heard anyone say anything about it.

We’re getting on with life here. Sorry.

11 Likes

I was having trouble with this too. I figured out that setting my safety glasses more forward on my nose (past the metal strip of my KN95) eliminated fogging in almost all cases. I suppose this presents more risk to your eyes if working in the pits, but for my volunteer role that didn’t really matter. Hope this helps!

2 Likes

I’ll be your outside observer, Jared. Covid protocols in OC were taken as seriously as ticketing for a concert; proof of full vaccination was carefully checked, security wristbands issued, and security guards made sure everyone wore their masks upon entry to either building. I didn’t see anyone all weekend not wearing a mask indoors, and interestingly they all wore safety glasses too, in the pits and on the field (me included, this was something I figured out how to do without fogging them up in March of 2020 since I wear prescription glasses and am a shop teacher. Shockingly not a difficult technical challenge, Jim).

OC was extraordinarily well run and was in such a lovely place. I’ve taken my team to regionals in many places and this was my favorite venue, we will return.

12 Likes

I know it’s a solved problem, and I feel bad about being incompetent.

Orange County is a great venue. Everyone was masked, lots of hand sanitizer around. It’s in “The Hanger” which is great for opening that huge hanger door to air the place out and cool it down at lunch. Lots of nice open areas to set up a lunch. During gameplay, they close the huge door. Would highly recommend this venue to any team. The gameplay is always stellar with powerful teams.

Volunteer Lounge: Awesome, food was excellent. One thing I can recommend. Please have Coffee and Drinks for those on their break after lunch.

To think Blue Alliance made up of Angel Botics/uBotics/SMBled gave #1 Red Alliance with awesome firepower with Code Orange/Highrollers/Troy Robotics all they could handle in Finals.

2 Likes

Then do what you do in any other area of your life where competence is a necessity: get technical advice from skilled practitioners, find the best combination of products that suits your particular circumstances, and practice until you’ve mastered it. “I couldn’t figure out how to use the safety devices on this table saw so I just removed them, kids, some of us are moving on with our table saw projects, sorry” wouldn’t be acceptable.

19 Likes

As an everyday glasses wearers I can highly recommend these masks.

I understand that you have had issues but being a mentor in a program that promotes research and learning I feel like some simple Google skills would have found you some masks that didn’t fog up your masks. I’ve been wearing those primal masks basically from day 1 of this pandemic…

1 Like

Yeah, you’d think I could handle it. I did start a thread on the subject, and got lots of good advice. Some of which I tried, and didn’t succeed. I’m incompetent at many other things, as well. I accept that.

In my situation of being retired, I don’t spend all day around other people very often. And I don’t wear glasses, except safety glasses, or sunglasses when driving some cars at some times.

I also find that seeing smiles on other people is a big part of my life. I need it.

Anyways, it appears Arizona isn’t like some other places in the world.

4 Likes

I have some stronger things I want to say, but I don’t want to derail this thread or get banned. Let me just say as someone whose medically vulnerable to Covid, please wear your masks correctly so I can attend events?

9 Likes