Clemson fans got some more optimistic news on Tuesday, when it was announced that the student athletes playing football and basketball, both men’s and women’s, will be returning to voluntary activities starting on June 8th. This comes after the university announced its phased return plan last week, that included the NCAA’s decision to allow voluntary activity for all athletics.
It is expected that student athletes could return back to Clemson as soon as June 1st, while dealing with a time period of social and physical distancing which will be seven days at home prior to returning to the Clemson area, and then seven days in Clemson.
Once that period is complete without symptoms, the student athletes will then be eligible to begin pre-participation physicals with Clemson Sports Medicine. This will include a test for COVID-19, along with an antibody test. Student athletes will also have to complete a daily screening before they will be allowed to enter facilities.
“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. 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 AD Dan Radakovich
As previously reported, Clemson Athletics put in place a three phase plan for return. This is with oversight from the university along with guidance from local and national health officials. The first phase is expected to start right along with the plan that Clemson University announced last week.
All of the phases include guidelines for social distancing, face coverings, increased sanitization, limited groups, more adjusted use of space and many other safety measures. Along with this overlying plan, the Clemson Athletic Department has worked closely with coaching and support staffs. They have looked at each facility and developed guidelines for those specific spaces. These plans are subject to change based on guidance from the CDC, DHEC, State of South Carolina, Clemson University, the NCAA, 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, along with those preparing facilities for Phase II. Athletic coaches are expected to work remotely for Phase I. This Phase is expected to last no less than 14 days. Coaches will not be allowed to start activity at the athletic facilities in limited numbers and employing recommended protocols with objective based duties until Phase II begins.
Phase II and III both further involve the staff and student athletes. This is also when they will be able to make adjustments to capacities and group settings along with facility access. Clemson will continue to assess the new policies and procedures on spacing, testing, contact tracing, and all other safety measures as they get them from the CDC, DHEC, the ACC, the NCAA, other medical research, and/or guidance.
They were not able to give any details as far as fall competition but for many Clemson fans this is another sign that the university, along with the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA, are still planning on and working hard to make sure there is some sort of football this season.
For others, you can rest assured that there will backlash and questions about whether it is too soon and safe for this to be done. At this point, all Clemson fans, can hope for is that it is done safely and that there are no spikes in the numbers of Covid-19 cases.