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Big Ten's COVID-19 Protocols Include Weekly Testing

Return-to-sports plan for 2020 includes greater testing for contact sports.

Big Ten athletes will be required to be tested at least once weekly under the conference's COVID-19 protocols released Wednesday.

Athletes in high-contact sports, including football and men's and women's basketball, will be tested twice weekly during competition periods.

"Testing is a critical component to the overall health and wellness and safety of our student-athletes, of our students on campus, and everyone in society," Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in an interview on BTN Wednesday morning. "Testing is a critical component. It doesn't solve all of the issues. But our goal is to make sure if we are so blessed to be able to compete this fall in the Big Ten, that our student-athletes will not only be healthy and safe during the week, but also as we enter into competition."

Sports considered at a high risk of contact are football, basketball, cheerleading, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, water polo, wrestling and volleyball.

Intermediate risk sports are baseball, softball, gymnastics, cross country and beach volleyball.

Low risk sports are golf, fencing, rifle, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and bowling.

The Big Ten's plan:

• Testing prior to accessing athlete facilities upon initial arrival to campus is required.

• Testing is required for athletes, as well as any coaches and support staff members who are in regular in-person close contact with athletes.

• The Big Ten will coordinate centralized testing through a third-party testing laboratory for consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing.

"We thought it was really important from a consistency and a credibility standpoint that we manage that from a third-party standpoint," Warren said.

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• Schools can supplement the required testing with additional testing for surveillance or clinical purposes.

• Testing for athletes, coaches and staff is required within three days of competition for sports with one game in a week. For football, that would mean testing on a Wednesday before a Saturday game.

• Testing for other high-risk sports with multiple competitions in one week must be done within three days of the first competition for the week.

• Results of testing must be shared among competing schools prior to game time.

• Game officials for sports where six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained must be tested weekly.

• If confirmed cases arise after a competition is completed, information is required to be shared with the previous week's opponent to facilitate contact tracing at the opponent's school.

The Big Ten's quarantine and isolation policies include:

• Athletes and staff are required to complete a symptom questionnaire before accessing facilities on a daily basis.

• If an athlete of staff member develops COVID-19 symptoms at any point, a clinical evaluation is required.

• Anyone who has been in close contact of a person who tests positive for COVID-19 or has a suspected infection must be in quarantine for 14 days without the ability to test out.

For confirmed infections:

  • Asymptomatic Infection
    1. Isolate for at least 10 days from the positive test (20 days if severely immunocompromised according to CDC criteria). If the student-athlete or staff member becomes symptomatic, revert to recommendations below.
    2. Cardiac workup based on current guidelines.
    3. Must be cleared by team physician prior to return.
    4. Reacclimatization to physical exertion based on current guidelines.
    5. Treatment and return to activity will require collaboration with health care providers.
  • Symptomatic Infection
    1. Infected individuals with mild to moderate illnesses who are not severelyimmunocompromised must be isolated for at least 10 days from onset of symptoms and at least 1 day (24 hours) has passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement of respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) in accordance with current CDC guidance. For severe illnesses or severely immunocompromised individuals regardless of illness severity, the isolation period should be extended to 20 days from the onset of symptoms and at least 1 day (24 hours) since recovery.
    2. Cardiac workup based on current guidelines.
    3. Must be cleared by team physician prior to return.
    4. Reacclimatization to physical exertion based on current guidelines.
    5. Treatment and return to activity will require collaboration with health care providers.