During the second round of university testing three student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19. Out of 86 student-athletes and staff tested in the athletics program, these are the first positive results, all of whom were asymptomatic.
According to a press release by director of athletics Kent Weiser, it was assumed that there would be positive test results as they begin summer conditioning.
“Just based on the numbers across the country, we assumed there would probably be some positive results during our testing,” Weiser said. “We have and will continue to follow the procedures in place to allow our student athletes to return to training.”
With state laboratories overwhelmed the students tested on July 6 did not receive their positive results until July 20.
“When the results came back Lyon county health kind of takes over for it and does all the contact tracing,” Weiser said. “We require them to be cleared by the chief of medicine for the athletics department. Our doctor was comfortable that they were clear and had gone through the incubation period…I anticipate they will be able to rejoin and not be a threat to passing (the virus) to others.”
This comes in the wake of a youth girls basketball tournament on June 20 where players were exposed to the virus after a player tested positive according to a report by KSNT.
“Coming back is strictly voluntary the way it has always been,” said Donald Weast, assistant director of athletics for media relations. “This past year was the first year we have kept track of who was here.”
According to Weiser athletes and trainers are tested upon arrival and screened everyday before being allowed to enter. Only those directly involved in training are allowed on the field.
“We meet them masked up before they enter and have their temperature taken, we ask a series of questions and do a little bit of a spot physical to see if they are becoming symptomatic,” Weiser said. “I believe we are the only school in our conference doing actual (laboratory) testing for asymptomatic kids.”
With football being the only sport to resume summer conditioning, students are broken up into smaller groups of 10 and can only use designated weight rooms by appointment only where they are required to wear facial covering and disinfect equipment between uses.
“The MIAA has delayed the start of competitions so we won’t be able to start actual practice until August 31 and our first games will be the week of September 28,” Weast said.
As Emporia State begins to reopen campus the risk of the virus resulting in death remains a concern.
“No death is acceptable,” Weiser said. “We are assessing this all the time and leaving those kinds of decisions to the public health community…if we find out that doing any of this puts someone’s life in danger, we would stop it immediately. The uncertainty is what drives you crazy. With our young people they don’t want to sit in a hole in their apartment or dorm room all day. Especially with our athletes, activity is very important to them, so we try and balance that. We are following all the guidelines so if someone says this isn’t working or that we can’t continue going on with this we won’t.”
For more information about the campus return policy visit www.emporia.edu/covid-19-information/esu-fall-2020-return-campus/facemask-policy/.