UMD outlines gradual, phased launch for safe return of student-athletes

By The Sports Pulse Staff

COLLEGE PARK – Maryland Athletics announced today details for a gradual, phased return to campus for student-athletes and staff.

Recently, the state of Maryland and Prince George’s County announced phased reopening of certain activities, which now allows Maryland Athletics to begin Phase 1 activities, focused on maintaining the health, safety, and well-being of student-athletes and staff.

These activities are restricted to the resumption of individual, voluntary workouts by football student-athletes only, supervised by a select number of sports medicine staff. Football student-athletes are permitted to return to campus on June 8 for pre-participation medical screenings. Voluntary, individual workouts may begin June 15.

“Our gradual, phased approach prioritizes the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” said Damon Evans, Director of Athletics. “We remain optimistic about the return of fall sports, and this plan will serve as our cautious and considered roadmap to the resumption of athletic competition.”

Phase 1 includes significant new measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes and staff:

  • Prior to the return of student-athletes and staff, all facilities will be prepared with deep cleaning, disinfection, and engineered physical distancing.
  • Prior to returning to campus, student-athletes must self-report to be symptom-free for at least 14 days prior to return and have had no known contacts with any positive COVID-19 case.
  • Prior to the resumption of any athletic activities, student-athletes will be subject to a COVID-19 diagnostic test, a complete physical examination and mental health screening. 
  • Each student-athlete will undergo a complete daily COVID-19 wellness check prior to entering athletic facilities at a designated checkpoint. This screening will include, but not be limited to completion of a symptom questionnaire and a temperature check.
  • Before beginning voluntary workouts, each student-athlete will participate in educational activities to review the recommended COVID-19 prevention best practices and give them an opportunity to ask questions regarding the current situation and hear others’ questions.
  • All voluntary individual workouts will be held outside under supervision.  The usage of indoor facilities, including weight rooms, locker rooms, lounges, meeting rooms, and dining halls will be restricted during Phase 1. 
  • Each student-athlete and staff member will be provided two face-coverings, but may also bring their own personal face-coverings. Everyone will be required to wear a face-covering as directed. Physical distancing will be enforced and proper hygiene, including frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizers, will be strongly encouraged.
  • Strict staff-to-student-athlete ratios will be enforced for all activities. 
  • Only a select number of staff may return to campus during Phase 1, limited to sports medicine, strength, and facilities personnel needed to facilitate the individual, voluntary workouts.
  • All participation in the individual training permitted during Phase 1 is voluntary. No student-athlete will be required to be on-campus for these voluntary workouts.
  • Any student-athlete concerned about their health may opt-out of any training, practice, and competition and this will not affect his or her scholarship status.

Maryland Athletics’ gradual, phased approach has been developed in close cooperation with State and County guidelines, shaped by NCAA and Big Ten Conference protocols, and authored by University sports medicine staff. The plan is subject to change as health conditions and guidance from health officials continues to evolve.

University of Maryland Football student-athletes are permitted to return to campus on June 8 for pre-participation medical screenings. Voluntary, individual workouts may begin June 15. Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

“We have developed a holistic approach to the health and safety of student-athletes for the Maryland Athletics program,” said Dr. Yvette Rooks, Head Team Physician and Assistant Director of University Health Center for Sports Medicine. “This approach includes diagnostic screening for COVID-19 which will include antibody screening, daily symptom checks, and educational training and reflects our absolute focus on the physical and mental well-being of the student-athletes.”

Subsequent phases of more permissible activities, indoor training, larger groups and additional teams are being developed. There is no predetermined timetable for the advancement through phases as it will be determined by state, county, and university health officials, and implemented only when it is deemed safe to do so.

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