In the last 10 days, Iowa State football players have returned back to campus for voluntary workouts, as a part of the Iowa State athletic department’s “on-boarding process”
The Iowa State athletic department said in a letter to fans on Thursday that since June 1, 160 football players and staff have been tested for COVID-19 with only four testing positive.
“The diligent commitment to safety by our medical and football coaching staffs has been instrumental to our low numbers,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said.
Story County has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and could increase with the return of more student-athletes in the weeks to come.
Pollard said in Thursday’s release that the department as a whole is committed to mitigating the COVID-19 infections.
“Given that Story County has experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases (471 total cases since June 1), we are very pleased by the commitment that our student-athletes, coaches and medical staff have made to mitigating COVID-19 infections,” Pollard said. “We recognize the sacrifices being made by our student-athletes to adhere to mitigation guidelines is probably greater than many other residents in Story County.”
The next hurdles in the departments “on-boarding process”, is returning student-athletes from the men’s and women’s cross country, soccer and volleyball on July 6, conducting team football activities on July 13 and bringing back student-athletes from the men’s and women’s basketball teams on July 15.
Student-athletes from all other sports are returning to campus in August.
“We are bringing teams back in a staggered fashion to avoid a large influx of student-athletes, which could put a significant strain on our department, university and community,” Pollard said.
There is going to be a “comprehensive list” of mitigation measures at Iowa State athletic venues, after it is finalized in coordination with university officials, the Big 12 and the NCAA.
“Our department continues to work with NCAA, Big 12 and university officials to finalize a comprehensive list of mitigation measures for our athletics venues,” Pollard said. “In addition to limiting seating capacity, we will reduce the time parking lots are open for tailgating, require face coverings to enter the stadium, move to digital ticketing, install additional hand sanitization stations, change entrance procedures, modify concession operations, as well as many other initiatives. A complete list of mitigation strategies for each athletics venue will be distributed prior to opening any facilities this season.”
The athletic department said that it sold out it season tickets and that they still are planning to play games in front of a half-capacity crowd in the fall. An overview of the adjusted seating chart of Jack Trice Stadium will be made available at a later time, according to the release.
Season ticket holders have the opportunity “to temporarily relocate to a less-populated section for 2020 or request a refund if they are not comfortable attending games.”
Pollard also said, “the safety of all participants and fans remains the top priority and that is why such thorough and comprehensive mitigation plans are being vetted for all of our venues. As we previously shared, attempts to implement mitigation strategies to a standard of absolute protection is simply not reasonable. It will ultimately be up to each attendee to decide if they are comfortable attending games given the mitigation strategies we implement.”
According to the release, the athletic department hopes to “continue to be a significant economic engine” for the community and state.
Source: Iowa State Daily