FRC Blog

The Coronavirus

Jan 30, 2020 Written by Frank Merrick

 

I’m sure many of you have been following the world-wide news about the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV.

Based on travel advisories and information from local partners – and with the safety of our community top priority – we are postponing the FIRST Robotics Competition events that had been scheduled in Beijing, China for March until after FIRST Championship. This is unfortunate but necessary given the impact of the virus on local and regional activities. We have reached out directly to currently registered teams impacted by this decision, letting them know their options. We will be doing our best to take care of those teams who are most affected by this unexpected challenge. You can find the email we sent those teams here.

A few other notes:

  • We know teams may be scrambling to pay for their 2nd (and beyond) events by the January 31 deadline. We’re extending this deadline to February 7th for all teams to give them more time to take this new information into account as they make decisions about the season.
  • Given the dynamic situation with the virus, we can’t yet say when the rescheduled events will be, but they will be held after the 2020 FIRST Championship.
  • Our intent is to have the rescheduled China events earn slots to FIRST Championship like the original events would have, even though, in this case, they would be earning slots to the 2021 FIRST Championship. This may sound strange, but a handful of teams (for example, Engineering Inspiration Award winners) already earn spots at the following year FIRST Championship for something they did in the current year. We’re just extending that concept in this very unusual situation. How the slots for the rescheduled events will be structured is TBD.

We will be keeping the community updated as we learn more and decisions are made regarding the rescheduled events.

Frank

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Comments

Will the Chinese teams still be allowed to attend events in the US if they were already scheduled to this year?

Yes. Every registered team that makes it to an event is welcome to participate. Teams should follow guidance from their local and government health officials when making travel decisions, including international travel.

Will Chinese teams travelling to Australia and USA still be allowed to compete in FIRST Competition?

Please see the answer above.

I am glad that one of my co-workers pointed this out to me.  But I'm also very concerned that I did not receive a formal email direct from FIRST since I am in the USA but am registered and confirmed as a volunteer (Judge) for the Beijing Cultural Exchange Event #1.

We apologize for any confusion and have provided a similar communication to volunteers as of today. Please let us know if we can provide further assistance.

Thanks!

Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

I totally understand that the safety of First community members is the first priority of First. However, I don't see the necessity of making the decision to postpone the match to a date that is after the FRC finals right now. As predicted by local authorities, school is likely to reopen at early March, indicating that it would be safe to hold educational activities such as First regional to take place afterwards. Plus, local authorities and experts would be able to make a more plausible prediction this eeek, would not it better the make the decision concerning the First regional events afterwards. I understand that it would be nearly impossible for you to countermand your decision, but I still find it necessary to voice my opinion.

Hello Sam.

Thank you for your comment. Postponing the events was not an easy decision to make, but was based on current information and travel advisories. Postponing rather than outright canceling the events was the best way to minimize any risks to the FIRST community while also helping ensure participation would be possible at a later date.

Thanks!

Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

I was just curious if the China teams would be competing at worlds even with the coronavirus at large or if it is still at large at the time?  I understand that this would be a big decision, but could it be a possibility to protect other teams that would be going to worlds?

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Hi there
I was wondering if there are any plans to postpone other FIRST Robotics Competition events? It looks like the numbers of coronavirus cases are rising in Europe. Therefore it might be advisable to have a closer look at the oncoming events eg. in Istanbul.
Thanks and all the best, Fridli

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Boa tarde ! Visto o Risco de Uma pandemia POR coronavírus  gostaria de saber se como Regionais  fazer FRC  Nos Estadou Unidos , especialmente em São Francisco Será adiada OU cancelada devido a aglomeração de grande Número  de  adolescentes de Diferentes Nacionalidades num MESMO ambiente ? Aguardo retorno 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Also wondering about plans for the World Champs, due to the virus. Your thoughts about gathering 55,000 people together from different parts of the globe in one place for an entire week. Please advise us. Thanks. 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

CNN reports today a presumptive corona virus case in a high school student at Jackson High School.  Is this the same school that hosts team 2910 Jack in the Bot?  Was the student on the team or related to the team in any way (sibling)?  2910 is scheduled to attend a 1st week event.

 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Is FIRST taking this seriously? It has been about a month since this post. Since then, the danger posed by this virus has grown exponentially with the organizations such as the CDC, individuals such as Bill Gates, and nations  in Europe all in agreement that this is a decisive moment. Conventions such as the Game Developer's Conference have been postponed. For competitions in March, I know many who are fearful of the the potential for the virus to spread. Should we be contacting our local chapters to see what they are doing to promote a safer environment? With the thousands of people that attend each FRC event, I shudder to think what may be going on next month. This could be dangerous for the grandparents that attend these sorts of events or those with immunodeficiency. 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

I volunteer at the safety glasses table for competitions. We need a way to sanitize the safety glasses between users or they could spread disease. Even during regular flu seasons, coughing or sneezing blows back on the face and glasses, no matter how you cover up. I would save new still wrapped glasses for those I knew had compromised immune systems but there are less and less of those as time goes on. Please provide a way to do mass sterilization, increase supply and make people buy them so they are not shared, or remove the safety glasses requirements for the general public in the pits. Thanks!

Thanks for the suggestion!

With the number of active Corona virus cases in California growing each day, I wonder if there are any plans to postpone the week two events in the region. Or are other precautions being taken to keep students and adult volunteers safe.

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

How likely it is the that the First Thessaloniki International Greece Open will take place in may 13-16th 2020? With the spread in Italy and Europe we will like to know what is the likelihood that it does take place. We will be coming from far and need to buy tkts very soon. Thank you

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Hi - Will the World Championship potentially be postponed if the CoronaVirus is not controlled by April? Will certain teams be excluded from the competition such as Italy, China?

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Following the latest developments related to Coronavirus spread in the US, I would like to know if (or is) FIRST taking any proactive steps, considering robotics competitions gathers large crowds of people travelling from different places. We are still in the midst of unpredictable spread of the virus. What is FIRST Lego League's approach to current developments worldwide? Are competitions still standing? Is it safe for our children to be subject to the potential of mass virus spread?
I would appreciate if someone can respond and/or issue a press release on this important matter.
We as parents, are very concerned for our children's health and safety.
Concerning upcoming competitions:
FRC Orlando Regional (03/13-03/16)
FIRST World Championship (04/15-04-18)

Any plans on postponing or enforcing strict public health/protection guidelines at the competitions?

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Shouldn't all FRC events worldwide be postponed or cancelled in light of the close proximity everyone is to each other at them?

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Given that coronavirus testing has been lacking in the United States and some other countries, and in the light of six reported corona virus deaths in the US as of 3/2/2020, will any of the regional events be postponed? If our event is not postponed, I plan on attending with my children while wearing N95 respirators. Will hand sanitizing stations be set up in the arenas?

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

I am very concerned about regionals moving forward with all the uncertainty around Coronavirus.  I know there are various teams that will not be able to participate given the current situation, and its unfair to have to decide between being exposed to the virus and expanding public risk vs losing the opportunity to compete after all of the hard work that all of them have put in. 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

 Our High School FRC team (2500 students in our HS) is scheduled to take part in Orlando next week; we just returned from Palmetto SC Regional two days ago and the students are understandably exhausted plus, therefore stressed biological systems ( systems theory ).  In checking the line up for Orlando we see multiple teams from West Gulf side of Florida in and near counties with now confirmed cases.  In addition we see that 55% of the remaining line up call home base a town within proximity of a major international airport, including ourselves.  Further, there are at least two teams from London appearing in the line up, therefore it is assumed that these members will have directly passed through international airports in UK as well as here in Florida.  In addition, this Regional utilizes a college campus arena, where all participants will be accessing venue amenities, local restaurants and businesses.  For the sake of ALL stakeholders, FIRST membership, our supporting communities, etc. PLEASE indefinitely post pone so that we are not potentially aiding and abetting further issues in our home communities - as there is no doubt about if - it is rather a question of WHEN and to WHAT DEGREE.
 

Gracious Professionalism AND Expeditionary Behavior.

Sincerely thank you for every opportunity to live FIRST values every day.

Much love to the Community,

Vigilant Mentors and Parents on the Space Coast

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Hi. As a parent, I would also like to know if this event is postponed or cancelled.  I understand that it's only a few days before event, but appreciate a response.  Also, what precautionary measures are in place during the event?

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

I am as a parent  concern for the kids health at this critical time that every organization worried about Coronavirus and spreading it around . I wonder to know why this competition shouldn't be rescheduled for later? Most of the big companies such Google, Facebook, NVIDIA and ,... have canceled their very important meetings. Please consider our kids, teachers and volunteers safety and their health. Iamgin if one person is effected how fast can spread it out between others in this gathering. Thanks for your concideration on this matter.

Thanks

 

 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

I totally agree, I struggle to understand the logic behind letting an event like this run, where children from all over the world will be congregating when some of the world's biggest companies, of whom are located in the US, are not letting any of their employees do any domestic or international travel (Amazon, Google, Cisco the list goes on). And if it does proceed with all these events going forth, I really question is the safety of competitors front of mind. Yes you can have your US teams still compete, but this is an international event and all teams should be considered in the decision. I hope that it's a safety decision and not a $$ decision.

Hi! What's the best way to withdraw from competitions? I know there are no cancelation notices, but I want to find the best way to withdraw at this time. Thanks!

Please send an email request to customerservice@firstinspires.org.

As a parent there is much concern with the number of people packed in a school gym.  Some facilities are smaller and the students and spectators are shoulder to shoulder in the stands.  This is a perfect opportunity for spread of a virus.  With little information of the Coronavirus and more cases appearing in the US, First should really think of the students health along with the many spectators. If the competition were held at an outside venue with much more space for people to roam, I probably wouldn't be as concerned but that's not the case.  There are students and mentors traveling by bus, staying in a hotel (who knows who is staying there).  I know the students and mentors put in time and effort but safety first. 

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

As a concerned parent, the First competitions are in gyms or gym like venues where students and spectators sit very close to one another.  This is an area in which viruses can spread quite easily.  I've read about hand sanitizers being near but what about people in the stands coughing, sneezing?  That can not be stopped.  Until more is know about this Coronavirus, students safety should be put first, limit travel.  Many companies are now limiting travel within the US, the students should have the same safety. Students and mentors are taking buses, flying on planes and staying on hotels, who knows within tight proximity of each other that a virus could spread.  My thoughts, First should really consider postponing all competitions until there is better understanding of the Coronavirus. Especially for the reason that students, mentors and spectators are in such close proximity of each other during competitions. Thank you.

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

Hi, Are the FRC regional in Fresno still on schedule given the latest developments in California. California declared emergency today. Thx

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