Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Daily screening will be required for Razorback athletes
Hunter Yurachek, director of athletics at the University of Arkansas, speaks Friday, March 13, 2020, in the Touchdown Club at Razorback Stadium to address questions regarding the Southeastern Conference and the university's response to the coronavirus outbreak.
FAYETTEVILLE — Athletes will have their body temperature checked daily and will be screened for symptoms daily as part of the University of Arkansas’ covid-19 protocol.
Athletes will be tested for coronavirus if they meet certain criteria, including a fever of above 100.4 degrees or if they exhibit symptoms of the virus.
“That’s following CDC guidelines, that’s following guidelines the SEC medical task force provided to us,” UA athletics director Hunter Yurachek said Wednesday.
A 14-day quarantine will be required for those who test positive, during which time a team doctor will monitor their condition. A quarantine might also be required for those who have interacted with the sick individual.
“I would foresee the roommates of that athlete being quarantined along with them,” said Dave England, director of sports medicine for the Razorbacks.
A quarantine will also be required of athletes who come to Fayetteville from outside the U.S. or one of four domestic hot spots - the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and the city of New Orleans. Some athletes from hot spots have already entered into their quarantine period.
“If somebody is coming from a hot spot, they have to contact the Department of Health themselves, and they are required to be in quarantine for 14 days,” England said.
The Razorbacks will allow returning athletes in the sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country back into training facilities on a voluntary basis beginning June 8. Freshmen from those sports and athletes from other sports will be allowed onto campus in phases between June 22 and July 6.
Athletes have been barred from on-campus training facilities since March 13. The June 8 return date was established by the SEC, but each athletics department will develop its own plan.
Yurachek said the Razorbacks’ plan is “customized to the state of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas,” and is based on guidance from Arkansas Department of Health, UA environmental health department, an SEC medical task force and state and federal agencies.
“What our plan was developed to do was to mitigate the risk of all involved,” Yurachek said, “and to outline some protocols for working together efficiently and effectively when a diagnosis is made for both a student-athlete and those they have come in contact with, or a staff member. Our goal has been and continues to be to instill confidence in our student-athletes, their parents and our athletics department staff that they can return safely to campus.”
Those who choose to return will be screened for symptoms upon their arrival and must pass a physical. Their workouts will be in scheduled small groups and will include coordinated entry and exit procedures.
Athletes will be asked to maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet at all times and wear face coverings while inside the facilities. Face coverings will not be required while they are actively working out, but the physical-distance requirement will be extended to 12 feet during workouts.
Access to sport buildings will be limited to weight rooms and training rooms initially, and athletes will also be allowed to use outdoor fields on a limited basis, Yurachek said.
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