Gophers football has begun its return to campus, targeting a return to voluntary workouts next week, with more teams soon to follow.
The athletic department on Friday announced its plan to gradually bring student-athletes back for voluntary team activities and the testing protocols the department has implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
After football, which already began the testing regimen Friday, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball will all make their way back to campus. Other sports will follow in the next several weeks.
Once back to campus, the student-athletes will complete a symptom and exposure questionnaire in the days before taking a COVID-19 test and an antibody test to determine if the athlete has already recovered from the virus.
If an athlete has two negative COVID-19 tests, he or she will go through a process before gaining clearance for workouts. With a positive test, an athlete will enter a protocol involving self-isolation. But those athletes will still have access to resources and daily communication with athletic medical staff. They can “return to athletic competition after meeting certain criteria,” per an athletic department release.
Athletes will also undergo daily screening measures, such as temperature and symptom checks. Athletes and staff are urged to use good hygiene, including proper sanitation and social-distancing. The athletic department will also “significantly limit” two-way movement in facilities, per the release, and encourage people to wear face masks.
“The health and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches and staff will always be our top priority,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement. “Our staff has spent the past several weeks preparing for our student-athletes to return to campus and has worked diligently to provide them with the safest environment possible.”
Several Big Ten football programs returned to their campuses earlier, including Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa. Others are taking longer, such as Northwestern, which plans to return to workouts June 22.