Athletics department staff and student-athletes are part of the broader institutional population and any plan for their return to campus should align with broader institutional policy for return, which will involve a COVID-19 testing protocol.
Robust testing, along with contact tracing, are critical to maintaining the health and safety of the Queens community by limiting the number of cases we have on campus. By identifying asymptomatic individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and limiting their interactions with others, the university can mitigate on-campus transmission of COVID-19.
We have a testing strategy that 1) tests frequently and 2) detects relatively small viral loads. This strategy allows Queens to identify cases of COVID-19 on campus prior to reaching their peak infectiousness period (i.e., period of communicability).
In addition, Queens Athletics will continue to follow NCAA and conference guidelines regarding the start of practices, training, and competitions. This will be a phased approach, and is dependent on the collaboration among sport coaches, sports medicine, sports performance personnel and student-athletes.
Preparticipation Health Screening Activities
Although some of these activities may be completed via telehealth or otherwise before return to campus, a thorough preparticipation exam is critical and may need to account for new and different COVID-specific symptoms and/or indications, including those pertaining to symptomatic and asymptomatic impact on pulmonary, respiratory, and cardiac systems.
These requirements are based on currently available information. Given the fluid nature of this pandemic, the requirements and testing strategies within are likely to change and will be updated as information evolves. This plan is based on risk mitigation strategies and is contingent upon supply chain availability.
Further, consistent with NCAA Constitution Bylaw 22.214.171.124, the institution’s medical staff must have unchallengeable autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions related to student-athletes.
Student-Athlete Return to Campus Guidelines
Given the additional contact that occurs with athletics, a heightened pre-return protocol will be in place for our student-athletes.
Prior to arrival, Queens will obtain confirmation of no high-risk exposure to COVID-19 as well as an absence of typical COVID-19 symptoms including, among others, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems, fever, headache, fatigue and muscle pain, for at least two weeks (14 days) before returning to campus.
If travel back to school involves physical distancing challenges (e.g., air or commuter bus travel), student athletes will be required to self-quarantine for at least seven days or longer if advised by local or state governmental health officials, before returning to athletics.
Upon arrival ALL student-athletes will be baseline tested, no team related activities or gatherings should occur until test results are obtained. The test will be administered by the Department of Sports Medicine and results will follow in 36-72 hours.
Queens student-athletes and team personnel will use a combination of PCR and Antigen COVID-19 tests as directed by Medical staff.
Special consideration should be given to student-athletes and staff who are at higher risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19, including an individualized plan of safely returning to campus. Please contact the department of Sports Medicine to arrange special accommodations and proceedings.
During this pre-report period, student-athletes will be encouraged to:
- Shelter-in-place in their current location and not travel except to return to Queens University of Charlotte.
- Maintain physical distancing (i.e., stay 6 feet from others and avoiding gathering in groups) and abide by other mitigation principles (i.e., use face masks when outside a private office or residence hall room, follow hand and hygiene best practices, etc.)
- Refrain from having close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) or household contact with an individual diagnosed (lab-confirmed) with COVID-19 or a person who was not tested but is assumed to have COVID-19 (symptomatic individual).
Additional, specific information will be shared directly with student-athletes via email and through their respective coaching staff.
Athletics Surveillance Testing
The risk assessment has been updated to include all NCAA-sponsored sports, including both winter and spring sports. Importantly, this risk assessment differs from the National Federation of State High School Associations and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and may differ from state/local risk categorization guidance.
Low contact risk: golf, swimming, tennis, track, and field.
Medium contact risk: baseball, cross country, softball, triathlon
High contact risk: basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, volleyball, wrestling.
In any low contact risk or medium contact risk sport or other scenario where appropriate physical distancing and universal masking practices cannot always be maintained, Queens will coordinate necessary testing strategies and protocols to mitigate community spread of COVID-19.
For Scenarios Presenting Medium Contact Risk:
- Diagnostic testing prior to or upon arrival to campus.
- During summer athletic activities and out-of-season athletic activities: surveillance testing, will operate at 25% of athletes and “inner bubble” personnel every two weeks if physical distacing, masking, and other protective features are not maintained, plus additional testing for symptomatic and high-contact risk individuals.
- During in-season (preseason, regular season, and postseason): surveillance testing, will operate at 25% of athletes and “inner bubble” personnel every two weeks if physical distancing, masking, and other protective features are not maintained, plus additional testing for symptomatic and high contact risk individuals.
- Symptomatic testing and high-contact risk testing as appropriate.
For Scenarios Presenting High Contact Risk:
- Diagnostic testing upon arrival to campus
- Summer athletic activities (voluntary) survey testing, will operate at 25% of athletes and “inner bubble” personnel every two weeks if physical distancing, masking, and other protective features are not maintained, plus additional testing for symptomatic and high contact risk individuals.
- Summer athletic activities (required) survey testing will operate at 25% of athletes and "inner bubble" personnel every two weeks if physical distancing, masking, and other protective features are not maintained, plus additional testing for symptomatic and high contact risk individuals.
- In-season (pre-season, regular season, post-season) weekly testing of all athletes, plus “inner bubble” personnel for whom physical distancing, masking and other protective features are not maintained, additional testing for symptomatic and high contact risk individuals.
- Out-of-season athletic activities survey testing, will operate at 25% of athletes and "inner bubble" personnel every two weeks if physical distancing, masking and other protective features are not maintained, plus additional testing for symptomatic and high contact risk individuals.
Holiday Breaks: Queens will ask all student-athletes to continue strict health/infection control precautions while on break. Due to travel and possible social interactions, it is important that student-athletes always observe infection mitigation behaviors. Upon the return to campus, all student-athletes and coaches will re-enter normal school testing protocols and have at least one negative test prior to re-entering athletic participation.