As college sports are delayed due to COVID-19 concerns, athletic departments across the country, including Nevada, have decided to begin regularly testing their athletes for the virus.
For now, all fall season sports have been postponed until January 2021. Winter sports like men’s and women’s basketball are still on schedule to begin play in November.
Nevada’s Associate Athletic Director Chad Hartley says the athletic department is following all of the applicable public health agency guidelines. Head team physician Dr. Tony Islas developed the department’s testing protocols in conjunction with the Nevada State Health Lab located on campus.
The protocol involves testing over 400 student-athletes, coaches, staff and other personnel on a weekly basis.
Hartley says that right now, they are testing student-athletes whose teams are in an official workout period, like the football team.
“Our football team isn’t scheduled to play any games at this point, but they do have an approved six week window where they can do official team workouts,” he said.
During that six week window, all student-athletes, coaches, and support staff members on a team will be tested on a weekly basis.
Hartley says they have a plan in place so as to not overwhelm the system, including staggering the six week windows throughout the course of the semester so that every team gets to have a workout period.
Part of the department’s plan includes an effort for student-athletes to avoid exposure to the virus.
When student-athletes and staff arrived on campus over the summer and for fall semester, they had to self isolate for at least a week, meaning reduced contact with other people and staying home, according to Hartley.
After a week, an initial COVID test was given, and the week after that physical examinations were done before athletes were cleared for practice.
There is also a system in place for contact tracing if a student-athlete or staff member needs to travel outside of the area or to a place with a high infection rate.
“If anyone tests positive, we can then identify who else may have been exposed and put quarantine protocols in place,” said Hartley.
Resources like the Marguerite W. Petersen Academic Center and athletic trainers are still available on a daily basis for student-athletes with social distancing measures in place.
The athletic department is thankful for the work done by healthcare workers.
“We are incredibly grateful for the work of our medical professionals, team physicians, and all of our great partnerships with the university medical school, but especially our athletic trainers,” Hartley said. “Our healthcare professionals have been incredible in developing protocols and they have been working countless hours over the spring and summer to take care of our student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
Hartley is also appreciative of the resiliency of the Wolf Pack’s student-athletes.
“These are certainly extraordinary times. It’s been kind of heartwarming to see the grace with which they have accepted our reality right now and continue to work forward,” Hartley said.