Although Monday, June 1 marked the first day the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allowed student-athletes in all sports to begin voluntary workouts and training again, there are already reports of student-athletes testing positive for COVID-19.
Arkansas State University reported that seven student-athletes have tested positive for the virus and the University of Arkansas reported one student-athlete had tested positive, as of June 4.
It was announced on May 22 that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I student-athletes in all sports would be allowed to participate in workout and training activities beginning June 1.
The NCAA Sports Science Institute released an updated action plan to offer guidance in mitigating the risks of COVID-19 transmission among staff members and student-athletes on May 29.
Prior to returning on campus, individuals should consider either getting confirmation that they do not have COVID-19 or self-quarantining if they are coming from a hot spot or distant region.
According to the action plan, institutions need to prepare for the amount of time and resources needed for health screenings and clearance before participating in athletic activities. There should also be a designated isolation room, personal protective equipment, plan for contact tracing and a return-to-activity protocol in case a student-athlete or staff member develops COVID-19.
In regards to the two universities in Arkansas, both have established COVID-19 mitigation protocols and the student-athletes are in isolation, receiving the necessary medical care and support.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson commented on the situation during a press conference on Thursday, June 4.
“You have athletes, and of course you got to recognize this is a fairly large number of athletes, who’ll be coming back for training, and they’re coming from different cities across the country,” He said. “And they come in and we have seven positives. That, I think, is going to be expected in multiple campuses across the state, and the universities are prepared to address that and deal with that. And so that’s what we’ve got to do.”
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) student-athletes will be allowed to participate in activities starting June 8.