Western Carolina will begin a phased return of athletes to campus in July. This return includes football and men’s and women’s basketball first on July 6.

The return is based on principles from the WCU Athletics COVID-19 Working Group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and on-campus healthcare partners, the NCAA and the Southern Conference also guide the decision-making.

The principles include education and communications; consideration of student-athlete expectations; COVID-19 testing and surveillance; systems for tracking, isolation and quarantine; social distancing protocols; personal protection; mental health; and cleaning and disinfecting.

Activities will include strength and conditioning activities, with workouts limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.

Beginning July 6, athletic training and rehabilitation will be available to all athletes by appointment.

Before athletes are cleared to return to campus and begin workouts, the following will have occurred:

Confirmation of no high-risk exposures to COVID-19 for at least two weeks and the absence of typical COVID-19 symptoms for at least two weeks prior; completion of a full COVID-19 screening to be administered by the athletic training staff; receipt of educational information from athletics/university staff to include suggestions for protecting themselves and others; expectations and new policies in athletic facilities; and other necessary information for their health and well-being.

Athletes will self-quarantine for at least seven days prior to returning to athletics.

Additional measures required of all athletes, coaches and staff include:

• All athletics venues will have set times for use and a rigid schedule that includes ample time between sessions for proper cleaning and sanitization.

• All athletes, coaches and staff will be required to have a temperature check and screening by the athletic training staff before utilizing any facility.

• Faculty, staff, students, including student-athletes, and visitors are expected to adhere to placards and signage that will be placed throughout the buildings, utilizing proper entrances and facility access patterns as some hallways will have restricted access.

• Hand sanitizer should be used upon entering and leaving athletic facilities.

• Locker rooms will be restricted to a set schedule based on the 10-member workout groups.

• Athletes will be required to use personal water bottles and face coverings for all indoor workouts and while in indoor common areas. In place of a shared chalk bowl in the weight room, workout gloves may be worn to protect hands during lifts;

• Athletics performance staff will utilize face coverings during all indoor strength and conditioning sessions. Athletic training staff will utilize face coverings and gloves during treatment/rehab sessions.

• Athletic facilities will be cleaned thoroughly and sanitized as soon as each session has ended and before any other athletes enter.

If an athlete tests positive for COVID-19, he/she will self-isolate for at least 14 days and receive daily checkups with athletic training staff, under the direction of Dr. Jason Creel, team physician. Athletes will follow the university’s procedure for COVID-19 positive patients.

Thorough cleaning and sanitizing of each facility will take place before returning the following business day. All Athletic Department employees will be accountable for the cleanliness of the facilities, led by each facility’s operations staff.