As students and faculty alike have anxiously anticipated Relays 2021, Drake University organizers had to drastically make changes to Relays in order to follow COVID-19 protocols.
Various precautions will be taken to ensure student safety on campus. Along with the strict enforcement of mask wearing, major events from past years such as the paint fight during street painting will not be in play this year.
“It’s been a challenging experience for me to coordinate a COVID-safe street painting without ever having been to street painting before, but working with my co-chair has been amazing and with the help of the SAB President and SAB advisor, I think we created a solid plan to keep students safe,” said Sarah Herring, co-chair of the Drake Student Activities board.
”This year’s Drake Relays will not look like anything we’ve seen ever before,” said Franklin Johnson, Senior Associate Athletic Director and director of Relays.
Throughout the year, Drake SAB has devoted extra time to ensure that all events for this year’s Relays will make people feel comfortable.
Drake Relays were cancelled last year due to the rise of cases nationwide and eventually when the spread of the virus hit Iowa.
This year, students will be able to attend COVID-friendly events.
“The [Beautiful] Bulldog contest is still taking place on April 18th for students to attend. Tickets for Beautiful Bulldog are free to students, but seating will be assigned for social distancing,” Herring said. “Street Painting will take place April 12-15. No paint fight will be taking place because it’s just not safe to do during the pandemic.”
Drake Provost and epidemiologist Sue Mattison gave her input on how students can stay COVID-safe at Relays.
“Everyone is experiencing pandemic fatigue–I am, too,” Mattison said. “But the pandemic is still with us, so please wear masks, keep safe distance, don’t drink to excess.”
Events such as the Relays Carnival in Helmick Commons were strategically planned to ensure social distancing, said SAB president Reilly Atkins.
“This is our traditional big carnival event with events carefully selected to minimize contact,” Atkins said.
Other events such as the Virtual Relays Trivia Night were also planned carefully.
“We chose to do virtual events to allow students who are unable and/or uncomfortable going to an in person event to participate in Relays,” Atkins said.
Another Relays activity happening this week is Glow Hip Hop, which will take place at 7 P.M. on April 19 in Helmick Commons.
“It is a fitness class for students to participate,” Herring said. “The event will take place outside on Helmick Commons to ensure student safety, and because it is in the evening, glow-in-the-dark supplies are going to be provided to make the event more fun.”
Other events that students can participate in include soccer darts, air hockey, foosball and ping pong. There will also be foods for students to munch on throughout campus. Although there is currently not a scheduled concert as in past years, SAB will be putting on two movies for the student body to watch at night throughout the week.
Junior Tanner Halleran was able to attend Relays in 2019 and gave his advice for newcomers.
“I’d recommend simply taking it in as much as possible,” Halleran said. “Experience the races, meet new people and just have fun.”