BOISE — Since summer training started at the beginning of June, Boise State Athletics has reported four positive cases of COVID-19 among athletes. Of those four, they were able to identify three of them before they even arrived on campus.
Marc Paul, the Associate Athletic Director for sports performance, health and wellness said that the Student-Athlete Return to Campus Plan created by the Athletic Department with guidance from the University has kept positive cases low.
That plan, outlined in a 37-page handbook, includes all the procedures the whole department has to follow. There's a series of steps every athlete has to pass in order to begin summer training.
"It’s a lot of maintenance, it’s a lot of monitoring, and that’s only in the preparation of getting back to school,” said Paul.
Before any athlete returned to campus they were tested for COVID-19 off-campus. If that test is negative, the athlete is permitted to come to campus.
"They show up in their cars in the parking lot, there's a daily screening assessment, if that's good staff in PPE will take their temperature," said Paul.
If they are cleared, the athlete goes inside to get a physical, a process that is constantly changing.
“The student-athlete stays right in their room they don’t move the whole time," said Paul. "As a provider, we go around and do the steps and the evaluations with the people assigned to different roles and then all of that equipment comes off, cleaned up, and sanitized and then we go to the next one”
They are testing the athletes every seven to ten days, but a lot of the athletes and problems are dealt with on a case by case basis.
“It’s really hard to say that we are just going to do this for every case because that simply just isn’t how it’s happening,” said Paul.
Overall they are pleased with their response, and the combined effort of staff, coaches and players to help mitigate COVID-19 as much as they can. The staff is collaborating with other colleges in Idaho, government officials, the University and other athletic programs for guidance on procedures and plans during this pandemic.
“It’s a lot more exhaustive and comprehensive and with the steps to do it it’s shown to be a pretty successful method up until this point," said Paul. "We are going to have positive cases, everyone will, it's just what you do about them."
But, even then their plans are changing daily as they learn more about the coronavirus. Paul said that what they do now, might not be the same as what they do a week from now or a month from now.
“The best analogy I heard when I was on a call the other day was someone said, 'I feel like I’m building the airplane as I fly it'," said Paul.
The only focus of the department is getting athletes back on campus for summer training. There hasn't been any official talk on what practices or even games will look like.
“Right now it’s just a matter of getting to training, and making sure they are safe in the weight room, and when they are trying to go outside and condition," said Paul. "When we get to practices I don’t know what that’s going to look like if I am being honest.”
There are so many things up in the air right now. Will there be a fall season? What will happen if a couple of players test positive for COVID-19 right before a game? How often will equipment need to be sanitized?
“Everybody wants to know it including us, that’s just questions we don’t have the answers to yet as we’re going and not just here at Boise State, it's across the country,” said Paul.
The university is in the process of hiring a Public Health Officer for the campus to help with guidance and policies for sports.