Meeting the challenges of a Virtual Season
The safety and wellbeing of our students and mentors is our top priority at Team 1675. We are committed to meeting safely, whether working with power tools in the shop, travelling amidst the varieties of challenging weather Wisconsin throws our way, or in the midst of an international pandemic. We strive to utilize the best available professional guidance to determine the right way to do this.
The COVID-19 Pandemic affected our operations in numerous ways. Details are outlined below. In summary, the 2020 season was cancelled by FIRST robotics. Our 2021 season has operated virtually (only). We were able to compete in the FIRST robotics Game Design challenge by gathering virtually in weekly summary and sub-team meetings to create the game and presentations required by that competition. We were successful in completing the challenge and defending it in a virtual interview with FIRST judges.
COVID-19 Season(s) details
We operate under the auspices of a number of organizations; each with their own safety rules and guidelines. The policies and decisions of these organizations directly affect our activities in a number of ways:
The decisions as to how to deal with safely operating the competitions and season to which we subscribe are prescribed by FIRST Robotics. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, FIRST postponed and eventually cancelled the 2020 FRC season following the second week of competition. The 2021 season was re-cast with opportunities for competition in performance demonstrations (based on the 2020 robot) and in a Game Design challenge. 1675 Participated in the Game Design challenge.
Our facilities at Bradley Tech High School run under the policies and practices of the Milwaukee Public School District. At the onset of the COVID pandemic, 1675 was effectively locked out of our shop as the school district reacted to the emergency. We anticipated this possibility by securing our robot, pit and key tools into private storage in the days leading up to the closure. We had hoped this would facilitate participation in summer 2020 events – but those events did not happen.
1675 meets under the auspices of a sports team and as a volunteer run club within the school district. Our ability to meet is therefor conditional on district policies on these activities. As of March 2021, MPS High Schools are returning to in-person learning, some sports teams are meeting but . . . no volunteers are allowed on campuses in the interest of keeping students and staff isolated from the COVID-19 virus. Until this policy changes we will be unable to meet in person.
1675 Mentors are generally employees of our primary sponsors. They are responsible to their employers’ guidelines on meetings during the pandemic. Therefore our sponsors’ corporate policies do have an effect on our decision-making for operations under these circumstances.
We sincerely hope to return to in-person and with-robot meetings in the fall of 2021 for the 2022 season in a safe and responsible manner.
FIRST Robotics Competition official COVID-19 Guidance: https://www.firstinspires.org/covid-19.
MPS COVID-19 Status: https://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/District/Newsrooms/Covid-19-Updates.htm