Big Ten establishes daily testing protocols with football's resumption
In order to bring back football in late October, the Big Ten has adopted a series of medical protocols advocated by the league’s Return to Competition Task Force, the most rigorous of which will involve daily COVID-19 testing.
According to a statement released by the Big Ten on Wednesday morning, athletes, coaches, trainers and other on-field personnel will undergo daily point-of-contact testing beginning Sept. 30. The results of those tests must be completed and recorded before every practice or game. Athletes who test positive will be given a polymerase chain reaction test to confirm the initial result.
Any athlete with a confirmed positive test will be required to sit out for at least 21 days. He will undergo a full cardiac evaluation and must be cleared by a cardiologist before he will be allowed to return to practice.
The Big Ten has established three categories – green, orange and red – to help guide decisions about whether to continue practices and games. Teams with a positivity rate of 2 percent or less (based on a seven-day rolling average) fall into the green category. The orange category represents teams with a rate of 2 percent to 5 percent, and the red category is above 5 percent. The Big Ten will also be looking at universities’ population positivity rates, with lines of demarcation set at 3.5 percent or less (green), 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent (orange) and above 7.5 percent (red).
When the team/population positivity rates creep into the orange/orange or orange/red categories, teams must alter their practice and meeting schedules and “consider the viability of continuing with scheduled competition” according to the Big Ten’s press release. Teams in the red/red category must stop practice for at least a full week.
Big Ten officials lauded the protocols as a pathway to the safe resumption of athletics.
“From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students. The new medical protocols and standards put into place by the Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force were pivotal in the decision to move forward with sports in the conference,” said Northwestern president Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and chair of the Return to Competition Task Force steering committee. “We appreciate the conference’s dedication to developing the necessary safety procedures for our students and the communities that embrace them.”