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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Kentucky announced its plan to gradually bring athletes back to campus on Saturday, with the first group scheduled to return on Monday.

UK waited for the Southeastern Conference to vote in favor of the return to activity, and will follow the recommendations set by an SEC task force on returning to activity and medical guidance. The university has been working to prepare facilities and putting recommended protocols into place.

The phased return will begin with football players. Athletes who remained in Lexington during the COVID-19 shutdowns will be able to participate in voluntary workouts on June 8 after the initial screening process. Those coming back to Lexington from out of town will begin the screening process on June 8 with the goal of beginning voluntary workouts on June 15. Newcomers will begin the screening process on June 15 with the goal of beginning voluntary workouts on June 22.

“We will not compromise the safety and well-being of our student-athletes in this process, taking all possible precautions,” UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said. “Once we take this important step in returning to activity, we will shift our focus to preparing to return to play and bringing the entire UK family – student-athletes, coaches and fans alike – back together this fall in a responsible and safe way.”

Only training staff deemed essential for the safety of athletes, including strength and conditioning staff, athletic trainers and nutrition staff, will be present. All other staff, including coaches, will continue to work remotely as they have since UK altered operations in March.

In a release, UK said the following protocols would be in place:

  • An initial screening process for each athlete prior to beginning voluntary activities that includes antibody testing
  • Daily student-athlete and staff screening prior to entering a facility, including temperature checks and completion of a COVID-19 symptom questionnaire
  • Acknowledgement of vulnerable populations for both student-athletes and staff and following recommended accommodations and restrictions
  • Proactive education on COVID-19 best practices
  • Establishment of single entry and exit procedures and securing other doors to minimize facility use
  • Providing personal protective equipment for student-athletes and staff and setting rules for when masks must be worn

Plans for the return of athletes in other sports will be announced as they are completed. UK will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 and respond accordingly if adjustments to the reopening are needed.

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