Montclair State’s Plan for Resuming Intercollegiate Athletics
On July 27, 2020, the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) cancelled all fall sports competitions. The conference will permit practices and training, and intends to allow the fall sports to compete in the Spring of 2021.
The elements of this plan that pertain to sports competitions will be implemented when and if the Governor directs that the State has entered Stage 3 and NJAC allows sport competitions to resume.
This plan is consistent with and incorporates by reference the guidance contained in the NCAA Sport Science Institute Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport, the New Jersey Department of Health Guidance for Sport Activities as well guidance provided by NJAC.
During Stage 1 of the pandemic, the University suspended all team practices, competitions and strength and conditioning activities and moved one-on-one athletic training sessions, group physical fitness activities, academic advising and prospective recruit meetings to remote delivery platforms.
During Stage 2, the University will allow student-athletes to practice and train outdoors. Indoor athletic spaces, including Panzer Gymnasium, the pool, the weight room and the fitness center will remain closed. Staff will occupy offices with social distancing and where needed, physical barriers. All athletics staff and students will follow the University’s General Safeguards as well as the specific safeguards and protocols described in this plan.
During Stage 3, Montclair State will expand the number of athletics activities, based on the guidelines established by the Governor.
Staff and student-athletes will comply with the University’s requirements to wear face coverings. Staff will wear face coverings inside athletics facilities as well as outdoors during practice and game play. Coaches will wear face coverings on sidelines during games when social distancing is not possible. Student-athletes will wear face coverings at all times when not in physical activity/active game or practice play. See Section I: General Safeguards for information about face coverings.
All members of the Athletics Staff, as well as student-athletes, will comply with the University’s requirements for social distancing. See Section I: General Safeguards for information about social distancing.
In addition, the following specific precautions will be taken.
Distancing in Athletic Facilities
- Athletic offices, work spaces, lobbies and other common areas (including sideline areas and press boxes) will be configured to comply with the University’s social distancing requirements. Tables and equipment will be moved as needed, and ample signage regarding health protocols and social distancing will be placed throughout all Athletic facilities, including floor decals to show movement patterns and appropriate distancing.
- Daily access to athletic facilities for team practices will be restricted to designated times and entrance/exit locations for all student athletes. Extended facility hours will be utilized as needed to accommodate individual student appointments in academic support, athletic training, and fitness, strength and conditioning areas.
- All uniforms for each sport will be cleaned, air dried and hung by the equipment room manager after all games. Each team will have their own assigned laundry bins.
- Individual water bottles will be given to all student-athletes, and they will be responsible to return their bottle each day for proper cleaning.
Distancing in Practices and Team Meetings
A variety of measures will be utilized to promote distancing during team practices and meetings, including small group break-outs in assigned areas of the field/court and designating sideline places for each player at 6 foot intervals. Unnecessary close contacts such as high-fives and handshakes are strongly discouraged, and spitting is prohibited. Team meetings will be held virtually whenever possible. If meetings must be held in person then all attendees must wear face coverings and maintain a minimum 6 feet of distance from others.
Distancing in Locker Rooms
Locker rooms will only be used for changing clothes and only when necessary; athletes will be requested to come dressed for practices when possible. Showers will only be permitted after games, not practices. No equipment will be kept in lockers overnight (except football equipment). Large teams (football, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey) have been assigned to specific locker locations that accommodate their size. In addition, players will be admitted into locker rooms in smaller groups in an effort to reduce occupancy at any given time. Visiting teams will have access to outdoor tents for changing clothes.
Prior to returning to campus, student-athletes, coaches and staff will receive training based on the most current CDC, NCAA and NJDOH recommendations. Topics will include the use of required face coverings, self-identifying symptoms of COVID-19, infectious disease control, daily health screening procedures, managing high touch items, and the Emergency Action Plan (EAP). This training will be conducted virtually and will be followed by a sports medicine compliance remote meeting for student athletes where new protocols and procedures will be addressed. These concepts will be reinforced throughout the year through ongoing training presented in a variety of formats. In addition, the content from these training sessions will be distributed to each student athlete and staff member in writing, and made available on the department’s website.
- Athletes and staff will be required to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) one week prior to returning to campus. See Section II: Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing for more information.
- Physical examinations will be required to be completed by each student athlete’s treating physician or a team physician prior to student arrival on campus unless there are specific exemptions afforded in league/NCAA regulations. A COVID-19 symptom and recovery assessment will be a required part of the physical; any required COVID-19 testing will be congruent with the University’s COVID-19 testing program.
- Student athletes will be strongly encouraged to obtain a flu shot unless advised not to do so by their physician or other medical authority.
- A COVID-19 symptom inventory will be completed by each student athlete to determine if they have been recently exposed to, have had an active case of, or been tested for the disease. The inventory will also determine whether the student has travelled to a hot spot location within the past 14 days.
- Student athletes will be required to complete the online screening application each day, and in addition will be screened by training staff and have their temperatures taken before participating in any practice or game. Student-athletes who have symptoms or report risk factors for COVID-19 will not be permitted to practice or play.
- Student health records are confidential and will be handled in compliance with HIPAA and FERPA laws and institutional policy and procedures.
Daily Screening Protocol
All student-athletes and athletics staff will complete a daily health screening prior to participating in all practices and competitions. The health screening will include a temperature check via touch free thermal scan cameras or forehead thermometers in addition to a symptom checking assessment.
Upon identification of COVID-19 symptoms or possible exposure, the Athletics Department’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP) protocol will be enacted. This plan enables Sports Medicine Staff and responding parties to properly assess, classify, and respond as appropriate:
- Individuals who report symptoms while off-campus will be directed to contact the Sports Medicine staff via phone and remain off-campus, or self-isolate in their assigned room on campus, and await further direction by University Health Center staff and/or team physicians.
- Athletes and staff who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 while on campus will be escorted into the Panzer Athletic Center through the pool entrance and taken to the athletics isolation room, where they will be assessed by Sports Medicine Staff.
- For students who are not experiencing distress, the University Health Center or team physicians (depending on the time of day) will be contacted immediately and will provide further instruction regarding self-isolation and medical evaluation.
- Employees who are not experiencing distress will be advised to seek medical advice and to contact Occupational Health, which can offer further instruction regarding self-isolation and medical evaluation.
- If emergency medical attention is needed, medical transport will be provided by the University’s Emergency Medical Services to the hospital/emergency medical service provider. EMS will be advised of suspected COVID-19.
- Symptomatic athletes must remain in self-isolation and will not be permitted to participate in practice or games until receiving physician certification/confirmation of non-infection or recovery from COVID-19. If the student lives on campus, Residence Life will arrange for quarantine accommodations.
- Staff displaying symptoms of COVID-19 must remain off campus until they provide a fitness-for-duty certification to Employee Benefits.
- An acclimatization protocol will be enforced to allow proper return into sport activity.
In order to limit equipment sharing to the greatest extent possible, individual player equipment will be assigned to, maintained by and stored with student athletes for the duration of the year (this includes shoulder pads, helmets, goalkeeper equipment, mitts/gloves, hockey sticks, javelins, etc.)
- Equipment sharing will be limited to only that which is required for play of the sport; essentially this means the balls/pucks that are used during games and practices.
- In terms of Athletic Training, disposable individual electrode pads will be assigned to student-athletes to use for the year, and whirlpools and tubs will be used only for ice baths to treat emergency issues caused by heat exposure.
- All fixed, shared equipment in Athletic facilities will be sanitized before and after each use including: athletic training treatment tables, rehab areas and athletic training equipment; strength and conditioning and fitness equipment such as weights and weight machines, bench presses, treadmills, cycles, etc. Locker rooms and facilities will be sanitized daily. Hand sanitizer stations will be stationed throughout facilities.
- There will be no team water coolers.
Note – these protocols will be implemented when competition is allowed to resume.
- Team travel will be limited to league play; no exhibition games or overnight travel will be scheduled for fall semester, with the exception of games that are essential for conference play. Hotel rooms will be assigned with a maximum of two players per room and in separate beds.
- Travel roster size for each away game will be reduced to allow for better spacing.
- Compliance with the University’s Social Distancing and Face Covering requirements will be mandatory for team members and staff while travelling, including while in vehicles and at any off-campus premises, whether indoors and outdoors.
- Bus cleaning protocols will be required of the service provider in writing and confirmed in advance. Bus sanitizing immediately prior to team pick up will be required as a condition of the contract. Trash will be removed by each student upon exiting the bus and placed into trash bags provided by the bus company.
- All travelling student athletes and staff will go through a Game Day Health Screening prior to departure. Symptomatic individuals will not be permitted to travel.
- Only pre-packaged food and single serve water will be provided to student athletes as needed.
- Additional bench seating (folding chairs) will be requested in advance for sideline seating at away venues as needed to achieve social distancing.
- The EAP protocol referenced above includes provisions for treatment of students while travelling. This protocol will be implemented as necessary.
- Trainers travelling with a team will be equipped with mapped locations of emergency services (urgent care and hospital facilities) en route and at the destination. If a student-athlete or staff member shows signs or symptoms of COVID-19 while traveling they will be isolated from the team to the greatest extent possible. Individual transportation arrangements will be made for, and single hotels rooms provided to, individuals who are displaying symptoms of or have been exposed to COVID-19. The athletic trainer(s) providing care to that individual will don proper PPE to monitor them, and the EAP (Emergency Action Plan) for treating COVID-19 symptomatic individuals will be implemented, including initial assessment, consultation with Montclair State team physicians and/or local emergency medical providers as necessary.
Note – these protocols will be implemented when competition is allowed to resume.
The competing team’s Head Coach and/or Athletic Trainer will communicate with the visiting team to determine time of arrival in advance and to plan entry locations to avoid congested areas, and to obtain official rosters of travel parties including coaches and staff.
Health Screening and Contact Tracing
All members of the visiting team’s party must be screened prior to, or upon arrival. The administrator for each visiting team will be contacted in advance to confirm compliance with Montclair State’s health screening requirements and ensure preparations are in place to conduct the screenings upon arrival if the visiting team has not completed the screening prior to arrival.
Training on Health Procedures
The University’s procedures and protocols will be communicated with visiting team administrators prior to arrival including screening, protocols for those with positive signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19, and our general safeguards (including our requirements for face coverings, distancing and sanitizing). We will request that a written copy of our procedures and expectations be provided to each travelling party member shortly before departure or en route. Visiting head coaches will be requested to review these protocols with their team members and staff.
Visiting Team Athletic Trainers will be provided with a table or other needed equipment outside of the MSU Athletic Training room. Those teams not traveling with an athletic trainer will be given times and specific areas where visiting student athletes can receive necessary treatment only from Montclair State staff.
- Only official staff will be allowed on the sideline.
- Additional bench seating or folding chairs will be provided as needed.
- Only single use cups or individual water bottles will be permitted.
- Use of showers and locker rooms will be allowed by visiting teams after games, with social distancing requirements in full effect.
- Home team students and staff will be expected to shower at home.
- All locker and shower facilities will be cleaned immediately following each game.
- Visiting team coaches will be expected to oversee social distancing within the locker and shower rooms while in use.
Non-essential guests will be limited through a variety of measures:
- In no event will the total outdoor occupancy of any outdoor sports venue exceed what is permitted by the Governor’s Executive Orders or regulations.
- Visiting team ticket allowances will be determined based on facility size, reduced capacity with distancing and home team ticket allocation, and state regulations.
- Bleachers will be sectioned off to assist with social distancing. Staggered seating will be promoted to avoid the stream of airflow directly to those in front and behind each spectator.
- Exits and entrances will be designated, and directional signage installed, where appropriate.
- Game day media and staff limits have been established for each sport, based on essential game functions and space capacity with distancing.
- Professional staff will administer most game day procedures to minimize the number of individuals needed on site during competitions.
- No halftime performances will be allowed including cheerleaders, dance teams, and outside groups.
Athletic Director Rob Chesney has been actively engaged with the other NJAC Athletics Directors and the Conference staff to develop a conference-wide COVID-19 protocol governing conference play. Once adopted by the University presidents, this agreement will ensure a shared commitment to safety and a consistent set of standards and regulations across institutions. In addition President Susan Cole has been and will remain engaged in regular dialogue with the presidents of the other New Jersey public higher education institutions to ensure a coordinated approach.
Last Modified: Monday, August 3, 2020 10:57 am