Arkansas AD Details Reopening Plan

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University of Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek detailed his department’s plans for welcoming student-athletes back on campus on Wednesday.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that Yurachek’s plan calls for “very robust” screening procedures, including daily screenings for symptoms of COVID-19 and temperature checks, though only those exhibiting symptoms will be tested for COVID-19. 

In addition, returning athletes will be asked to wear masks while entering and exiting athletics facilities and maintain physical distancing while on premises. Meanwhile, all staff that have contact with athletes will be required to wear masks.

The plan is part of the university’s phased approach to reopening campus to student-athletes, which the Democrat Gazette obtained via an open records request. The four phases place tentative dates for when student-athletes in various sports will be welcomed back on campus, and break down as follows:

  • June 8: previously enrolled student-athletes for football, men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country.
  • June 22: gymnastics, swimming and diving and track and field
  • June 29: incoming freshmen for fall sports and men’s and women’s basketball
  • July 6: baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis.

Of the dates above, only June 8 is considered a hard start date.

Yurachek said that despite not testing all student-athletes, the plan adheres to guidelines set out by both the CDC and Southeastern Conference. However, student-athletes coming from CDC-identified “hot spots,” including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans will be tested.

Meanwhile, Yurachek said that while the department will do all it can to mitigate the risk to student-athletes, he asked that they be prepared to share the responsibility.

"There's a great deal of onus that's going to come on the shoulders of our student-athletes,” Yurachek said. “They're going to have to take part in following the protocols and following the plan that we have in place to protect them and those they may come in contact with."

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