Maryland athletics announced plans for a gradual, phased return approach for student-athletes and staff, it said in a press release Friday morning.
“Our gradual, phased approach prioritizes the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” athletic director Damon Evans said in the release. “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.”
The plan, crafted by university sports medicine staff in accordance with state and county guidelines, is limited to football student-athletes only. Individual, voluntary workouts — due to start June 15 — will be supervised by “a select number of sports medicine staff.” Football student-athletes are allowed to return to campus on June 8 for medical screenings.
“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,” Dr. Yvette Rooks, Head Team Physician and Assistant Director of University Health Center for Sports Medicine said in the release.
There are 11 guidelines included in the initial plan, subject to change as health conditions develop:
- 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.
The plan was shaped by Big Ten and NCAA protocols. However, the timetable for a lifting of other restrictions — indoor training, larger groups and additional teams, among others — are still uncertain at the moment, set to be determined by state, county and university health officials as the coronavirus situation progresses.