Wisconsin Unveils Plan for Returning Football, Volleyball Players; to Begin 'Voluntary Athletics Activities' on June 15

Jake Kocorowski

Last week, a UW official confirmed to AllBadgers.com that Wisconsin's football players would be allowed to return to campus on June 8. On Monday, the athletic department unveiled a game plan that includes student-athletes in Paul Chryst's football and Kelly Sheffield's volleyball teams kicking off its "phased approach" that begins to lead to voluntary activities next week.

According to the release, players from those two programs will undergo "initial health assessments and COVID-19 testing the week of June 8, followed by the start of strength and conditioning activities on June 15." Other teams like men's and women's basketball will come back later in June and the hockey programs following thereafter.

"Provided all goes well, additional student-athletes will have the opportunity to come back for voluntary workouts as well, as the summer progresses," one of UW's FAQs in the release states.

UW also noted that the Kohl Center, LaBahn Arena or its Student-Athlete Performance Center will not open at this time. In the FAQ section answering which facilities are available for use by student-athletes, it acknowledged the following:

The weight rooms in Camp Randall Stadium and the McClain Center as well as the turf in Camp Randall Stadium and the McClain Center and the grass practice field just north of Camp Randall Stadium will be utilized for voluntary strength and conditioning activities. The training room in the McClain Center will be available by appointment only or to treat acute injuries that develop during voluntary strength and conditioning activities. All other facilities, including locker rooms, team lounges, meeting rooms, and the performance nutrition center, will remain closed.

Any meetings with UW's coaches in a group atmosphere will still go on in a virtual setting. 

The workouts inside the weight rooms will be cut off at 10 players per group, and UW stated the size of that specific one inside Camp Randall Stadium -- which will also "have separate entrance/exit locations" -- allows two sets of student-athletes in there simultaneously. 

A strength coach will be allowed for each group of Badgers taking part in the activities. However, they will have to watch from a "central location" from within the room while continuing to keep a six-foot distance. The players will have a specific weightlifting rack or area to engage in and finish their routine, and they will be given a "personal sanitization kit" to clean equipment afterwards.

Even before engaging in the workout, student-athletes will also take part in a "health screening" each day "that includes a temperature check and assessment for COVID-19 symptoms and compliance with social distancing behaviors."

Testing for COVID-19

UW constructed this initiative "with multiple other units on campus, as well as medical officials," according to its release. Here is more pertaining to testing as seen below:

A detailed plan of health-related processes and procedures will be in place to mitigate the risk of illness for student-athletes and staff. A member of the UW Sports Medicine staff will conduct an educational presentation with each team to ensure they know what to expect when they arrive at Camp Randall Stadium. Prior to arrival, all student-athletes will complete health information forms, schedule a health assessment (physical exam) and each will undergo PCR testing (nasal swab) for the COVID-19 virus. Student-athletes will be tested once initially and then again if/when they report symptoms or are believed to have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Student-athletes will be screened daily before entering UW Athletics facilities. Masks will be worn by student-athletes and staff members at all times other than during conditioning activities.

Individuals with suspected COVID-19 symptoms will be instructed to self-isolate while awaiting test results. Local health officials would be contacted regarding tracing procedures and UW Athletics facilities staff would further sanitize areas where suspected individuals had been. UW Athletics would determine the best location for the individual testing positive to self-isolate and coordinate follow-up medical monitoring and care as indicated.

If a student-athlete tests positive for COVID-19, the following plan is in place per UW:

*Individuals with suspected COVID-19 infection should self-isolate while awaiting the result of the COVID-19 testing.
*Athletics, in coordination and consultation with local and university health officials will determine the best location for the individual testing positive to self-isolate and coordinate follow-up medical monitoring and care as indicated.
*Facilities will be notified regarding the potential need for additional sanitation of spaces within Athletics occupied by the individual with suspected COVID-19. Athletics facilities should be closed until appropriate sanitization is completed.
*Local public health guidelines will be adhered to for reporting and contact tracing to identify individuals who would have been in contact with the COVID-19 positive individual and should be referred for COVID-19 testing.
*Individuals who have been in contact with someone who tests positive, will be managed by medical staff on a case-by-case basis and may be required to self-quarantine for up to 14 days.
*Individuals with potential COVID-19 exposure will be instructed to self-isolate until the result of their COVID-19 test is confirmed and will be provided reminders and additional education for symptom monitoring.
*Once an individual with suspected exposure has received a negative result from their COVID-19 test and been symptom-free for 72 hours, they may return to regular participation in organized athletic activities.
*Once an individual that has tested positive for COVID-19 is symptom free for 72 hours they will be referred for repeat COVID-19 testing.
*Once an individual with a known COVID-19 infection receives a negative COVID-19 test, completes a follow-up medical exam, and is cleared by a team physician they will be allowed to resume a gradual return to participation in organized athletic activities.