University of Florida to begin phasing in return of athletes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) The University of Florida will gradually welcome the return of student athletes to campus starting on June 8th, an encouraging sign that competition could resume in the fall.

Earlier on Friday, the SEC opened the doors for its schools to begin the reopening process at their own pace. Collegiate athletics across the country have been shut down since March 12th due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Returning members of the Gator football team may arrive for individual workouts on June 8th, although they can begin physicals and COVID testing on May 26th. Volleyball and soccer returnees are free to get back to campus on June 15th. By July 1st, the process can start for new players in those sports.

Some of the guidelines in place for the return of college athletes include:

*Access to athletic facilities (training room, IPF for weights, academic advising) are by appointment only.

*All student-athletes will be tested for COVID-19 as part of the physical exam process.

*Student-athletes will undergo a screening process prior to each time they enter the weight room and/or the Athletic Training facilities.

*Masks will be provided for all medical appointments. Student-athletes should follow CDC guidelines and wear masks or cloth face coverings while inside facilities. Masks are not recommended during workouts.

*Wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers and refills will be installed/located at the entrance of every building and every department. Cleaning regimens have been established for each type of space.

If these protocols are followed, the University of Florida and other schools in the SEC hope steps can be taken towards a return to play at the start of next school year.