FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Volunteer Registration and FIRST Championship Health and Safety Policy

Dec 28, 2021 Written by Frank Merrick, Director FIRST Robotics Competition

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Volunteer Registration 

Volunteer Registration is now open for all FIRST Robotics Competition events, including FIRST Championship! We’d love your help! Want to know how to register as a volunteer? Take a look at this Volunteer Registration System Instructions.  


FIRST Championship Health and Safety Policy 

Speaking of Championship, I know some of you have wondered about our safety plans for the event in Houston. Please take a look at our recently updated COVID policy for the event. As with everything COVID-related, this policy is very subject to change. If it does, we’ll get the word out quickly so you can stay informed and make appropriate plans. 

Less than two weeks to Kickoff! I am excited! 

Frank 

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Comments

Hi Mr. Merrick, thank you for the blog post and the transparency regarding the COVID Policies at the Championship. I understand that the COVID policy is very subject to change but I was wondering: is a potential vaccine mandate one of the things that could be in place in the future?

I am extremely disappointed that vaccines are not required for the championship.

Greatly disappointed that there is no vaccine/test requirement for worlds.

It is weighing heavily on my decision to attend or not.

Social distancing at a championship event is impossible, too many people in too small a space, too loud, and too much passion.

I seriously hope that FIRST reconsiders this incredulous decision.

Hi Frank,

Can we hear the rationale for not requiring vaccination and/or testing to enter the Championship venue? This seems to have been implemented quite successfully at other events, including both FIRST-related examples and examples in the same venue.

Thank you,

Siri

Look at the average age of FRC mentors, and then explain why I, a 74 year old lead mentor, should be further endangered by not doing the obviously right thing. I will just not be there.

I'm glad there is not a vaccine mandate as that quickly becomes heavy handed, overreaching, and problematic from a privacy standpoint. I would be in favor of presenting either a vaccine card OR a negative test. That would be a reasonable alternative.

Thanks for the update on Champ's policy. I am pleased to see a mask mandate, but also extremely disappointed to see that there is not a vaccine mandate. As a matter of personal safety, it makes me nervous to attend the event. On the topic of the team that I mentor, I expect that this will significantly change the calculus on our ability to attend the event. 

FIRST is an organization focused on science and technology. The Covid vaccine represents some of the most important science and technology of the modern era. I implore FIRST to reconsider the event policy and announce a vaccine mandate for all that are capable of receiving it. 

Thank you for NOT mandating a vaccine.  I am sure this wasn't easy and very likely controversial within FIRST.  The true inclusion FIRST is showing here is appreciated.  Like the person above, I would be interested in the decision process.  It may shed light on other factors we all may not be considering.  While some commenters appear put out, in the end this will allow us all to use our STEM skills to make appropriate decisions for ourselves and our teams.  I'd rather not debate the topic here but want to counter the other comments and show support for FIRST and a very difficult decision.   

I am disappointed there is no vaccine requirement for the championship event.The science is conclusive: the vaccine is safe and effective. As an organization that celebrates science, I would have expected better.

Will FIRST release details on why they chose to omit vaccine mandates for events and event volunteers? Very disappointed by this decision, especially for the championship, as my team will likely not be allowed to attend an unvaccinated event.

Thank you for your questions and feedback; they’ve been shared with FIRST leadership. If any additional information is released or updated, we'll be sure to let the community know. In the meantime, please know that we at FIRST believe that the best path toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic is through vaccination. And as shared in the FIRST Championship Health and Safety Policy, we strongly recommend everyone who is eligible and has access to a vaccine be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with booster shots if applicable, prior to attending FIRST Championship. 

Our school district requires masks and vaccination for all school related events. Without a requirement for Championship to have this, we cannot attend. As a retired professor who spent decades working with viral vectors and biosafety protocols, this event has all the hallmarks of a superspreader event. Texas is extremely lax with basic masking and neither my co-coach nor I are willing to risk our health or those of our students with a trip there at this time. It is an absolutely amazing event, one we would love to be attending, but not with the way things are right now. Our kickoff event just got cancelled, and we may be locked out again if the school goes remote or stops all extracurricular activities again, ending our season and not making any competition possible. Loosing another year would mean we have zero experienced members. I urge FIRST to make this and the next season a simple competition since so many teams have lost mentors and students with knowledge. We helped win a regional in 2019 and 2020, but can’t even get one of our robots to drive right now, it’s that bad. FRC provides great opportunities for kids, especially with the loss of all shop classes, and I hope we can keep things going and make it through to where we can safely meet and compete again.

As a parent of five boys, I believe that it is important for parents and their doctors to make informed decisions about their own children's medical needs. I appreciate your respecting that decision and not trying to act as a health care professional.  My boys are looking forward to a great season! Thank you! 

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