MADISON (WKOW) -- A limited number of University of Wisconsin student-athletes have returned to campus for voluntary athletics activities in a phased approach.
Beginning this week, UW Athletics’ plan includes the voluntary return of the Badger football and volleyball teams for initial health assessments and COVID-19 testing the week of June 8, followed by the start of strength and conditioning activities on June 15.
"We couldn't be happier to get even a portion of our student athletes back on campus, in our buildings," says deputy athletic director Chris McIntosh. "We feel it's a step in the right direction and a step towards our seasons this fall."
The return policy will be heavily focused on testing. Each student-athlete will be tested when they return to campus and re-tested when warranted. They will also be screened for symptoms daily.
"Testing is crucial," says McIntosh.
If a student-athlete tests positive, the school has developed a comprehensive plant to isolate and treat the student-athlete before returning to activities.
"We've taken the direction of our physicians from the get-go," McIntosh says of the plan.
Groups of 10 or less will be allowed to work out at two weight rooms on campus and on specific turf or field areas. Staff members will monitor the workouts from a safe distance while wearing masks. All group meetings with coaches will still be held virtually.
The voluntary workouts will start with football and volleyball players. Eventually, basketball and hockey players will be allowed to return as well with other student-athletes set to join them by the start of the fall semester.
"Our goal is for that to happen far sooner than fall," McIntosh says of all student-athletes returning to campus.
At this point, the hope is that football will still kick off the season Sept. 4 against Indiana.
"Until the circumstances dictate otherwise, that's our plan. That's where our efforts are," adds McIntosh.