Penn State’s athletic department announced Thursday night that it will begin a phased approach for 75 of its football players to return to campus Monday, with those who have been medically cleared permitted to begin voluntary workouts June 15.
According to a department release, players have begun a quarantine in preparation for their return to campus, and will be tested and quarantined when they arrive in Happy Valley. When they are ready for voluntary workouts, they may do so in groups of fewer than than 20, supervised by Penn State’s performance-enhancement and sports medicine staffs.
The sports performance team has developed in-depth protocols for players and staff that includes wearing of masks, daily health screenings, and small-group activities, along with carefully guided access to buildings and sanitation of facilities, the release said.
Players, coaches, and staff will be educated in Penn State’s COVID-19 procedures, must have daily temperature checks and fill out health screening questionnaires, and adhere to social-distancing guidelines for meetings and workouts, including smaller groups for performance-enhancement sessions.
Protocols also include use of personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning for all athletics facilities, and limited and monitored access to facilities.
Penn State football players had to leave campus by March 13 after the coronavirus pandemic was declared, just before the beginning of spring practice. Since then, they had been working out mostly at home.
“We are very confident in our plan and will continue to keep the health, safety, and well-being of our students, coaches, staff, and community as our top priority,” said vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour.
The statement said the university’s phased return also includes “other student groups who may also require access to specialized facilities, in-person mentoring or early arrival for successful transition to the fall semester.”
Penn State’s other 30 athletic programs also will use a phased return, with times to be announced at a later date.
The Nittany Lions are the seventh Big Ten football program to announce a phased return. Ohio State and Iowa, two opponents on the 2020 schedule, also come back to campus Monday, while Big Ten East rivals Michigan State and Indiana return June 15.