Jimmie athletics has pandemic protocol in place

Jimmie Football 2019 Mistro and team.jpg
University of Jamestown head football coach Brian Mistro addresses the team following a 2019 practice at the Jimmie turf field. Michael Savaloja / The Sun

University of Jamestown Athletic Director Sean Johnson said his department has planned and is prepared should a student-athlete contract COVID-19.

Nearby North Dakota State University revealed Monday one of its student-athletes on campus tested positive for the virus, putting into motion an established health and safety protocol. Johnson explained UJ has put similar steps in place, which are outlined in an executive summary published last week on the school’s website,

The University of Jamestown plans to resume both in-person instruction and sports competition in the fall and has already transformed its daily operations as prescribed by the North Dakota Departement of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Johnson said UJ currently has approximately 115 student-athletes in Jamestown who can take part in small group weight room workouts at the Larson Center, as well as various open gym activities without coaches present.

From checking temperatures to washing hands and cleaning surfaces, a different but safe atmosphere should greet student-athletes in the fall and the athletic department will have had a summer-long head start. Johnson said approximately 475 more student-athletes will arrive on campus when classes are scheduled to resume.

“We’re getting ready to educate our student-athletes that are not here, so when they show up they’re not unfamiliar with what we’re going to do,” Johnson said. “We think that is critical so they understand and their parents feel comfortable with what we’re doing.”


Johnson said student-athletes currently must have their temperatures checked and hands washed prior to working out at the Larson Center, which has been open for use for approximately the past month. Johnson also said student-athletes are being routinely asked questions related to their health and COVID-19.

In its executive summary, the university stated it will work with local health care providers to provide testing for symptomatic individuals and has earmarked residences on campus to house infected individuals while in isolation should positive cases turn up. The university would also work with the CDC to support contact tracing.

UJ’s department of student affairs, under the direction of vice president Dustin Jensen, would handle positive COVID-19 protocol.

“We’re asking COVID questions, we’re taking daily temperatures,” Johnson said. “So we’ve ramped up our protocols already and summer has been a really good time for us to test those protocols.”

Normally, the athletic department at UJ is a beehive of activity once seasons begin, with team practices and workouts continually running back-to-back. Allotting enough time to socially distance and sanitize has now become a priority.

“We’re going to isolate our teams within the athletic training room,” Johnson said. “When one group is done, we’ll clean and the next group will come in. That will be different, but it’s gotta be different.”

The NAIA is not allowing coaches to be present at student-athlete workouts or conditioning exercises this summer. Coaches were previously allowed to be present and such activities between May 15 and Aug. 1.

Practices for all NAIA sports will begin Aug. 15.


“We had to take a step back and we’re not allowed to be in those facilities when students are working out,” Johnson said. “The one thing we are continuing to do is to check them in, ask the COVID questions and take their temperature.”

Johnson said the university is working closely with the NAIA and the Great Plains Athletic Conference to make sure it’s following the best practices, which will extend to team travel with competition scheduled to begin in September.

“As best as you can, you have to think about every possible scenario and I think we’ve done a really good job with that,” Johnson said. “I really appreciate the work of our athletic training staff, our strength and conditioning staff, and Dustin Jensen in student affairs is really on top of it in terms of what’s coming out of the governor’s office and what’s coming from the CDC.

“The co-curricular experience at the University of Jamestown is very important, and for us to do that then we have to have a good, solid plan with good protocols and I feel we have that."

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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