There has been much speculation about when the University of Oklahoma would resume athletic (namely football) activities this offseason amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and we now have the answer.
The Big 12 announced last week that schools were allowed to resume beginning June 15th if they wanted, but Lincoln Riley had said previously that opening June 1st was “ridiculous.”
Well, Riley and Oklahoma have stuck to their guns here as OU will begin voluntary football workouts on July 1st.
Once the players return to Norman, they will be evaluated for clearance by the OU medical staff and then continously monitored carefully.
“As I have stated before, we are going to approach this return with extreme care,” Lincoln Riley said. “We understand that the well-being of our student-athletes is at the top of our responsibilities. That’s why we will be diligent in how we manage everything from the way we relate to each other to the cleaning of our facilities and beyond.”
Athletes from other sports besides football will return later on in the summer in a phased approach.
The plan was created by the OU medical staff in conjunction with the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center, which is also providing direction for every facet of OU’s campus.
If an athlete tests positive for COVID-19, they will be taken to a designated quarantine shelter.
Most OU athletics staff members will still be working from home for the time being. But, when they return they will go through the same process as the athletes – evaluation upon arrival and then continuous monitoring.
All individuals are going to wear masks provided by the athletic department and will comply to social distancing rules with special procedures in place for elevators, staircases, restrooms, meetings rooms, offices and workout facilities.
Workout groups will include ten or fewer participants and will operate in “open or partially open-air environments whenever possible.” Every staff member and athlete will be screened before entering a facility at a one, single controlled entry point.
OU is taking the slow approach to this in an attempt to come back as safely as possible – while still planning to start the season on time in September.
This plan is very consistent with what Lincoln Riley has said when asked about the approach he feels most appropriate, and seems to be a wise and tempered method for resuming activities.
It will be very interesting to see how schools all around the country elect to handle this summer, but we now know that the University of Oklahoma is taking a more methodical and cautious approach than some others.
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