After the NCAA and Southeastern Conference voted in favor of a return to activity, UK Athletics announced its plans for the phased return of student-athletes beginning on June 8.
“We will not compromise the safety and well-being of our student-athletes in this process, taking all possible precautions,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “Once we take this important step in returning to activity, we will shift our focus to preparing to return to play and bringing the entire UK family – student-athletes, coaches and fans alike – back together this fall in a responsible and safe way.”
UK Athletics will follow the recommendations outlined by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force and the guidelines instituted by the University. Leading up to the return of student-athletes, UK Athletics will prepare facilities for use and ensure proper protocols are in place.
The only staff that will be present at voluntary workouts will be Athlete Development & Performance staff essential for the safety of student-athletes, including strength and conditioning staff, athletic trainers and nutrition staff. All other staff, including coaches, will continue to work remotely as they have since the University of Kentucky altered its operations in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As student-athletes return to activity, the following protocols will be in place:
- An initial screening process for each student-athlete prior to beginning voluntary activities that includes antibody testing
- Daily student-athlete and staff screening prior to entering a facility, including temperature checks and completion of a COVID-19 symptom questionnaire
- Acknowledgement of vulnerable populations for both student-athletes and staff and following recommended accommodations and restrictions
- Proactive education on COVID-19 best practices
- Establishment of single entry and exit procedures and securing other doors to minimize facility use
- Providing personal protective equipment for student-athletes and staff and setting rules for when masks must be worn
The phased return to activity will begin with the football team. Returning student-athletes who remained in Lexington will be able to participate in voluntary workouts on June 8 after the initial screening process. Returners who are coming back to Lexington from out of town will begin the screening process on June 8 with the goal of beginning voluntary workouts on June 15. Newcomers will begin the screening process on June 15 with the goal of beginning voluntary workouts on June 22.
Return to activity plans for other teams will be announced as they are finalized. UK Athletics will also continue to actively monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 and respond accordingly in collaboration with University of Kentucky leadership.