Emporia State Athletics to begin return to campus

ESU Athletics 
Don Weast, Associate Athletic Director

EMPORIA – Hornet football players will be the first group of Emporia State students to make a return to campus when a controlled group of 60 players prepare to begin summer workouts on Monday, June 15. This is in line with Emporia State’s overall policy for a phased return to campus that seeks to mitigate the risks of spread of COVID-19 as staff, faculty and certain students start returning in selected areas and repopulating the campus by steps. It is based upon standards established by the State of Kansas, Lyon County, the NCAA and Emporia State University.

The first group of 60 players will be divided into six groups or cohorts of ten student-athletes in order to facilitate contact tracing if necessary. They will report to the ESU Student Health Center by assigned cohorts for COVID-19 testing on Monday, June 15 with results expected within two to five days. Once results are received the student-athletes that test negative will be released for participation. If someone tests positive they will be placed in isolation, with contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts being primarily a public health function facilitated by Emporia State Athletics.

Student-athletes released for participation in the summer conditioning program will complete a daily, 11-point self-assessment and have their temperature taken by a member of the Emporia State sports medicine staff prior to each conditioning session. Student-athletes reporting at least one of the COVID-19 symptoms (not explained by a known factor such as allergies) or having an abnormal temperature elevation, will not be allowed to participate before being evaluated by an athletic trainer. There will be three training times assigned on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Student-athletes will not be allowed to make up a missed training session during another time slot.

Conditioning will begin outside on Jones Field at Welch Stadium and Witten Track before moving inside to the Emporia State Athletics Weight Room. These facilities will remain closed to all other use, both to the general public and other athletic use to try and maintain a controlled environment. The training groups will be broken down into smaller groups to allow for greater social distancing. Groups will begin training and rotate on the strength & conditioning coaches’ command. Before each rotation student-athletes and coaches will clean their equipment, using proper technique and supplies provided by ESU Physical Plant and Custodial Staff. This phase will last from June 15-26.

Phase 2 will see training move inside, with student-athletes assigned specific racks in the weight room, before moving outside for running. While inside weights, barbells, dumbbells and other equipment will be designated to each rack for the student-athletes to help prevent cross contamination. Indoor training will be modified to not need a spotter, however if a spotter is needed it will be done by a strength & conditioning coach.

Cleaning will be a group effort with student-athletes and coaching staff cleaning throughout and after each use. The coaches and training staff will do a whole weight room cleaning once a group leaves the weight room. A fogger will be used at least once a week to supplement the regular cleaning and make sure the weight room is being cleaned as thoroughly as possible.

When training outside student-athletes, coaches and trainers will maintain more than six feet apart for social distancing. When social distancing is not possible masks will be worn. When training moves inside, anyone in the weight room not physically working out on a weight rack must wear a face mask and practice social distancing as much as possible. Masks will be supplied to the coaches and student-athletes.

Access to the athletic facilities will be controlled and at no time will student-athletes be allowed to use the locker room.

These procedures are in place to allow our student-athletes to return to training in a safe, structured and educated manner that follows standards established by the State of Kansas, Lyon County Public Health, the NCAA and the Emporia State University Fall Planning Group.

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