University, athletic department begin Phase 1 of return to campus
The process begins.
While Clemson University is beginning Phase 1 of its return to campus process, the Clemson Football program is readying its players as well.
Along with the men’s and women’s basketball players, the football players return to the Clemson area Monday to begin pre-participation physicals with Clemson Sports Medicine. This physical includes a test for COVID-19, as well as an antibody test. Student-athletes must also complete a daily screening before entering facilities.
If the student-athletes pass these tests then they will be allowed to begin voluntary workouts next Monday (June 8) at their athletic facilities. This is the first action the Clemson Athletic department has had since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down on March 12.
Clemson hopes, along with many of the college football programs across the country, that this first step will lead to a 2020 college football season, which university athletic departments desperately need from a financial standpoint.
Clemson is still scheduled to open the 2020 football season at Georgia Tech on Sept. 3.
Now that Phase 1 has started, Clemson University will begin to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in the area for a period of 14 days. If there continues to be a downward trajectory, the university will then begin Phase 2, which will include more faculty and university employees returning to campus. It also could mean the return to campus for Clemson’s other student-athletes, such as men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball.
“We are encouraged to begin the first step in the implementation of our Phase I planning, and appreciate the leadership of our University in helping us prepare for our student-athletes and staff to return in early June,” said Clemson’s Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich in a statement last week. “We are confident in our ability to provide a safe environment and have put our energy into that goal. We’re encouraged by the progress and remain vigilant as we begin to welcome a limited number of student-athletes back to our facilities.”
Clemson Athletics has planned a three-phase approach to return, with oversight from the University, as well as guidance from local and national health officials and best practices. The first phase is expected to commence in conjunction with Clemson University’s Phase I target date.
All phases include guidelines for social distancing, face coverings, enhanced sanitization, limited groups, modified use of space and other safety measures. In addition to the overarching plan, the athletic department has worked at a granular level with coaching and support staffs, looking at each facility and developing guidelines for those individual spaces.
The plans are subject to change based on guidance from the CDC, DHEC, State of South Carolina, Clemson University, the NCAA or the ACC or new medical information and research.
Phase I includes just those staff members directly responsible for the health and well-being of student-athletes, as well as those preparing facilities for Phase II. Sport coaches are expected to work remotely for Phase I, which will last no fewer than 14 days. Coaches may begin activity within facilities in limited numbers and employing recommended protocols with objective-based duties no sooner than Phase II.
Phase II and Phase III each further integrate staffs and student-athletes, and make adjustments to capacities and group settings, as well as facility access. Clemson will continue to evaluate policies and procedures on spacing, contact tracing, testing, and other safety measures as more is known from the CDC, DHEC, ACC, NCAA or other medical research or guidance.
—Clemson Athletic Communications contributed to this story
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