Ohio State will test all athletes for COVID-19 when they return to campus for voluntary workouts over the next month, according to a list of health and safety protocols released by the school Friday afternoon.
The testing program began with football players who will be first permitted to resume voluntary workouts at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the Schumaker Complex on Monday.
The school said the football players have already been tested and quarantined while waiting for results.
It is a step that deviates from earlier plans from Ohio State that did not require players to undergo coronavirus testing in their return to campus. Athletic director Gene Smith told reporters two weeks ago that he was waiting for further guidance from medical experts.
In Friday’s announcement, OSU said it had developed its protocols based on guidance from the university’s COVID-19 transition task force, along with other groups, including the Centers for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health.
If an athlete tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and receive daily check-ups from the athletic department's medical staff.
Public-health officials have considered testing to be an important step in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, especially among younger people who are more likely to be asymptomatic. Recent estimates from the CDC consider 35 percent of coronavirus patients to be asymptomatic.
Along with testing for COVID-19 in their return, athletes will undergo examinations from the school’s doctors and athletic trainers and be given educational material.
Other precautions will be in place when football players arrive Monday morning for workouts over a nine-hour window. That includes daily temperature checks and symptom assessments.
The locker room, among other areas of the football facility, will remain closed, and athletes will be asked to dress for workouts at their apartments. The weight room and select fields are available.
Coaches are not present at voluntary workouts, though trainers are to be there. Players are to follow social distancing guidelines.
Since May 18, coaches have been had limited use of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for meetings.
The move to allow players to resume voluntary workouts at the on-campus facilities came after a vote by the NCAA’s Division I council last month.
Ohio State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will be allowed to return to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 15.
Members of both teams will be allowed access to Value City Arena, and coaches will also be allowed to return to work at their offices. Since the Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments were canceled March 12, players and coaches have conducted all business and workouts remotely.
Players will have to pass protocol in order to use the facilities, most notably a 24-48 hour quarantine after being tested for COVID-19 upon their return. Players will have be subject to a physical examination from team physicians and athletic trainers and will receive education and training to ensure an understanding of social distancing and the importance of proper personal hygiene and sanitation.
No more than nine athletes will be allowed together during set times for workouts, and players will have daily temperature screens and symptom checks upon their arrival.
Coaches and staff can not be present for the voluntary workouts, only sports performance coaches, trainers and managers.
Other OSU athletes in fall sports are set to return for voluntary workouts at the Schumaker Complex on June 22, including the women’s field hockey team, men’s soccer team, women’s soccer team and women’s volleyball team.