The COVID-19 global pandemic canceled this year’s NCAA tournament and spring sports and it’s unclear when sports might resume across the country.
On Friday, the NCAA released a document put together by the COVID-19 advisory panel that outlines nine core principles and a three-phase plan with “recommendations from medical experts to ensure the health and safety of all is the top priority.”
“It is also important to take into consideration that there will not be a quick, single day of re-emergence into society,” NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said in a release. “We will re-emerge in a manner that recognizes COVID-19 will be around until there is an effective vaccine, treatment or both. That is why resocialization should be rolled out in a phased way that helps assure sustained low infection spread, as well as aids in the ability to quickly diagnose and isolate new cases.”
The full document, which is titled “Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport,” is available here.
Below are the nine core principles and three phases:
1. There must not be directives at the national level that preclude resocialization.
2. State and local authorities must have in place a plan for resocialization.
a. In accordance with the federal guidelines, such a plan assumes the following state/local GATING CRITERIA have been satisfied:
i. A downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period and a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
ii. 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.
iii. 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.
3. 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:
a. Social distancing and protective equipment.
b. Temperature checks.
c. Testing and isolating.
e. Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas.
f. School business travel.
g. Monitoring of the workforce for indicative symptoms and preventing symptomatic people from physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.
h. Workforce contact tracing after an employee’s positive test for COVID-19.
4 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:
a. All student-athletes, athletics health care providers, coaches and athletics personnel should practice good hygiene.
b. All student-athletes, athletics health care providers, coaches and athletics personnel should stay home if they feel sick.
c. Guidance noted above for university employees should be in place within athletics.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. There must be access to reliable, rapid diagnostic testing on any individual who is suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms.
8. 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.
9. 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.
In accordance with the federal guidelines, resocialization of sport for Phase One assumes the following:
1. Gating criteria have been satisfied for a minimum of 14 days.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Physical distancing should continue.
5. Gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided unless precautionary measures of physical distancing and sanitization are in place.
6. 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.
7. Virtual meetings should be encouraged whenever possible and feasible.
8. Nonessential travel should be minimized, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding isolation after travel should be implemented.
In accordance with the federal guidelines, if Phase One has been implemented successfully, with no evidence of a rebound, and gating criteria have been satisfied for a minimum of 14 days since the implementation of Phase One:
1. Vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place.
2. Awareness and proper isolating practices related to vulnerable individuals in residences should continue.
3. Physical distancing should continue.
4. Gatherings of more than 50 people should be avoided unless precautionary measures of physical distancing and sanitization are in place.
5. 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.
6. Virtual meetings should continue to be encouraged whenever possible and feasible.
7. Nonessential travel may resume.
In accordance with the federal guidelines, if Phase Two has been implemented successfully, with no evidence of a rebound, and gating criteria have been satisfied for a minimum of 14 days since the implementation of Phase Two:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Unrestricted staffing may resume.