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Maryland Athletics announces plan for football players’ return to campus

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Student athletes returning for individual workouts is the first official step towards a football season

Mike Locksley Damon Evans press conference Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

The University of Maryland athletics department announced plans for a phased approach to allow student-athletes and staff to return to campus Friday.

Football players will be allowed to come back to College Park on June 8 to undergo pre-participation medical screenings as part of the first phase. Student-athletes may take part in voluntary, individual workouts starting June 15. All activities will be supervised by sports medicine staff.

“Our gradual, phased approach prioritizes the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a press 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 has been developed in conjunction with university health officials, state and Prince George’s County guidelines, along with those of the NCAA and Big Ten conference.

“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.”

The athletic department is in the process of developing plans to add permissible activities, indoor training, larger group workouts and allow returns for other teams. All activities were originally suspended on March 12.

Here are more details on the plan:

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.