NCAA lays out plan for return of sports

(WVLT) -- The NCAA laid out plans for sports to return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before they can get back to the grind, the organization said states and local governments would have to meet certain "gating criteria" to get back into action.

Areas need to see a 14-day downward trend of coronavirus cases as well as have a robust testing program that ensures less strain on area hospitals. Once schools and their districts see that, they can move on to the phases of the NCAA's plan.

Gating criteria

- There must not be directives at the national level that preclude resocialization.

- A downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period and a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndrome cases reported within a 14-day period.

- A downward trajectory of documented cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests within a 14-day period.

- Hospitals can treat all patients without crisis care and there is a robust testing program in place for at-risk health care workers, including emerging antibody testing.

- There should be a plan in place at the university/college level for resocialization of students. In keeping with the federal guidelines, universities should consider guidance provided to employers to develop and implement appropriate policies regarding the following:
•Social distancing and protective equipment.
•Temperature checks.
•Testing and isolating.
•Sanitation.
•Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas.
•School business travel.
•Monitoring of the workforce for indicative symptoms and preventing symptomatic people from physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.
•Workforce contact tracing after an employee’s positive test for COVID-19.

- There must be a plan in place at the university/college level for resocialization of student-athletes within athletics. In keeping with the federal guidelines, athletics should practice the following:
•All student-athletes, athletics health care providers, coaches and athletics personnel should practice good hygiene.
•All student-athletes, athletics health care providers, coaches and athletics personnel should stay home if they feel sick.

- There must be adequate personal protective equipment for athletics health care providers, and there must be sanitizers to manage infection control in all shared athletics space.

- There must be the ability to assess immunity to COVID-19 at a regional and local level. This could include immunity at the college campus, plus a more focused assessment of herd immunity for athletics teams.

- There must be access to reliable, rapid diagnostic testing on any individual who is suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms.

- There must be in place a local surveillance system so that newly identified cases can be identified promptly and isolated, and their close contacts must be managed appropriately.

- There must be clearly identified and transparent risk analyses in place. Such risk analyses consider issues such as economics, education, restoration of society, and medical risk of sport participation, including COVID-19 infection and possible death.

Phase One
Under phase one, there will be no gatherings of 10 or more. Athletes and coaches that are most vulnerable to the virus should not participate in activities.

- Gating criteria have been satisfied for a minimum of 14 days.

- Vulnerable student-athletes, athletics health care providers, coaches and athletics personnel should continue to shelter in place. Vulnerable populations include individuals with serious underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity and asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised, such as by chemotherapy.

- Those living in dorms and other residences where vulnerable individuals reside should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home, and appropriate isolating precautions should be taken.

- Physical distancing should continue.

- Gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided unless precautionary measures of physical distancing and sanitization are in place.

- Gyms and common areas where student-athletes and staff are likely to congregate and interact, should remain closed unless strict distancing and sanitation protocols can be implemented.

- Virtual meetings should be encouraged whenever possible and feasible.

- Nonessential travel should be minimized, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding isolation after travel should be implemented. Phase one will have to be successful, with a sustained downward trajectory of cases for two weeks, before phase two can begin.

Phase Two

Phase one will have to be successful, with a sustained downward trajectory of cases for two weeks, before phase two can begin.

- Vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place.

- Awareness and proper isolating practices related to vulnerable individuals in residences should continue.

- Physical distancing should continue.

- Gatherings of more than 50 people should be avoided unless precautionary measures of physical distancing and sanitization are in place.

- Gyms and common areas where student-athletes and staff are likely to congregate and interact should remain closed, or appropriate distancing and sanitation protocols should be implemented.

- Virtual meetings should continue to be encouraged whenever possible and feasible.

- Nonessential travel may resume.

Phase Three

Phase two must be successful with no evidence of a rebound in virus cases for at least two weeks before phase three can begin.

- Vulnerable student-athletes, athletics health care providers, coaches and athletics personnel can resume in-person interactions, but should practice physical distancing, minimizing exposure to settings where such distancing is not practical.

- Gyms and common areas where student-athletes and staff are likely to congregate and interact can reopen if appropriate sanitation protocols are implemented, but even low-risk populations should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments.

- Unrestricted staffing may resume.

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