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The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework | Part 1: Creating a New Normal—Facilitating a Change in Culture

INTRODUCING:

The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework: Creating a New Normal—Facilitating a Change in Culture

Social Distancing, Stay-at-Home, Shelter in Place, Essential and Non-Essential Workers—all terms and concepts foreign to most of us just six weeks ago. Our nation’s responses to this virus have made these terms common phrases in our everyday discussions.

As COVID-19 impacts our daily lives and we come to terms with the emotional roller coaster that is our new normal we are all asking for answers to the same questions:

  • Can we continue to stop the spread?
  • How do we ensure we have a safe home, a safe environment, and a safe campus? 
  • How soon can we resume sport participation?

The answers of course to these questions are based first and foremost on safety and wellness. We must be committed to ensuring safety and wellness for all before we answer the final question—when can we resume participation?

A return to campus and a return to sport participation require an instant change in the culture of sport. Specifically, we must focus on health care personnel and programming— the personnel who will provide healthcare and the programming in place to ensure the safety and wellness of the student athletes, coaches and the healthcare providers. 

We have been discussing the new normal with national and international colleagues to gather the best practices. To ensure you are ready to begin the cultural change in sport healthcare we have developed a framework for creating and implementing the new normal in sport healthcare, wellness and safety.

The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework establishes six categories to ensure you a have a plan, a roadmap to follow once campuses are opened for the return of students and staff and a return to sport participation.

Category 1: Return to Campus Protocols—Healthcare Staff, Student Athletes, Coaches and Staff

Category 2: Facility Preparation and Management—Medical Facilities and Campus Facilities

Category 3: Personnel Development and Training—Medical Personnel, Coaches and Staff

Category 4: Programming and Education—Medical Personnel, Students, Coaches and Staff

Category 5: Training and Practice Modifications—General and Sport Specific

Category 6: Sustaining Cultural Change—Programming to ensure the New Normal remains

In a series of weekly articles beginning Tuesday, May 5 USCAH experts will provide the USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework beginning with Category 1— Return to Campus Protocols.

Ensure Athlete Health, Wellness and Safety—Partner with USCAH

The U.S Council for Athletes’ Health (USCAH) has recently announced the launch of the Athletic Healthcare Administrator Association (AHAA). This association will be a critical voice for the future of athletic healthcare and safety for all athletes. Please visit uscah.com to learn more about this important offering.

The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework: Creating a New Normal—Facilitating a Change in Culture

Category 1: Return to Campus Protocols for healthcare staff, student athletes, coaches and staff.

The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework establishes six categories to ensure your institution has a plan, a roadmap to follow, once campuses are opened for the return of students and staff and for a return to sport participation.

The six categories of the Framework:

Category 1: Return to Campus Protocols—Healthcare Staff, Student Athletes, Coaches and Staff

Category 2: Facility Preparation and Management—Medical Facilities and Campus facilities

Category 3: Personnel Development and Training—Medical Personnel, Coaches and Staff

Category 4: Programming and Education—Medical Personnel, Students, Coaches and Staff

Category 5: Training and Practice Modifications—General and Sport Specific

Category 6: Sustaining Cultural Change—Programming to Ensure the New Normal Remains

This week we introduce Category 1: Return to Campus Protocols for healthcare staff, student athletes, coaches, and staff.

New protocols and practices for a return to campus will be shared, as well as a preliminary guide to serve as a checklist as you create your own Return to Campus Roadmap.

Social Distancing, Personal Hygiene and Group Hygiene. What we now know about social distancing prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic has certainly changed. How healthcare staff work with student athletes, where the care is provided and the preparations necessary to provide healthcare are forever changed.

Return to campus protocols continue to be discussed by administration leaders at colleges and universities across the nation. As each day passes, we seem to learn more about the pandemic and we discover the more we know the less we truly understand when and what our return to campus will look at. Additionally, the actions and decisions of state, national and world-wide leaders and health care professions will help us create our roadmap for a healthy and safe return.

Athletic administrators will be tasked with implementing the framework of a return to campus roadmap created by and in conjunction with institutional leadership. Navigating the roadmap as your healthcare staff, student athletes, coaches and staff return to campus will bring about what we refer to as the Standards of the New Normal.

The fundamental components, the metrics of the return to campus roadmap, focus on the following:

  • Personnel and Programming
  • Testing and Monitoring
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Social Distancing
  • Personal and Group Hygiene
  • Quarantine Procedures

A return to campus and a return to sport participation require an instant commitment to change the culture of sport. Specifically, we must focus on health care personnel and programming—the personnel who will provide healthcare and the programming in place to ensure the safety and wellness of the student athletes, coaches and the healthcare providers.

Healthcare professionals will be required to use practices that limit the exposure to viruses. Wearing facemasks and frequent hand washing when in public will remain an emphasis. Additionally, healthcare professionals will have to establish new procedures in student athlete access to modalities, like hot and cold tubs, which will require strict hygiene requirements and appropriate disinfection.

Prior to a return to campus and eventual return to sport participation testing and monitoring protocols must be established. Healthcare staff, student athletes and coaches should be informed of what types of tests will be used as well as the frequency of testing. Additionally, a system which continuously monitors individuals to determine risk potential, symptoms, temperature and exposure, must be implemented. 

Risk mitigation will begin with the identification of essential personnel. These individuals will prepare for the eventual return of all the healthcare staff, student athletes, coaches and staff. Initially, their role will be to contain the population that will be involved with the athletic programs. They will establish and monitor the social distancing policies in the locker rooms, training and competition facilities, medical facilities and dormitories and other living facilities.

Without question, the new standards for healthcare will require a significant emphasis on social distancing and personal and group hygiene protocols. Social distancing will be continued post pandemic and will include continuing to limit in person meetings and interactions when alternatives are available. Interactions will be limited to very small groups with appropriate space to make certain to limit potential viral spread. The new recommendation will be a minimum of six feet between individuals. Finally, the new standards for daily cleanliness, sanitization and disinfection, and maintenance of athletic equipment and facilities that will become the new norm.

The final component of the Return to Campus roadmap is the creation of quarantine procedures to be implemented when someone does test positive. These procedures must identify isolation protocols, contact tracing, and quarantined facility management. 

Creating a Return to Campus Roadmap is essentially a commitment to cultural change, a commitment to changing how we will interact on a daily basis. To create cultural change that will be acceptable the entire Return to Campus Roadmap must incorporate campus policies, local and state health department policies, State and Federal initiatives. To sustain the cultural change will require unconditional buy-in and from the student athletes, coaches and department of athletics staff. The ultimate goal is safe, uninterrupted participation and competition—a goal not everyone is committed to sustaining.

The experts at the United States Council for Athletes Health have included a comprehensive checklist to provide guidance for:

The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework

Category 1: Return to Campus Protocols—Healthcare Staff, Student Athletes, Coaches and Staff

For additional information and programming to ensure your institution is prepared for a return to campus and a return to sport contact and collaborate with USCAH.

The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework: Creating a New Normal—Facilitating a Change in Culture

Creating Your Roadmap for Return to Campus

The USCAH Return to Sport Health and Safety Framework establishes six categories to ensure your institution has a plan, a roadmap to follow, once campuses are opened for the return of students and staff and for a return to sport participation.

The six categories of the Framework:

Category 1: Return to Campus Protocols—Healthcare Staff, Student Athletes, Coaches and Staff

Category 2: Facility Preparation and Management—Medical Facilities and Campus facilities

Category 3: Personnel Development and Training—Medical Personnel, Coaches and Staff

Category 4: Programming and Education—Medical Personnel, Students, Coaches and Staff

Category 5: Training and Practice Modifications—General and Sport Specific

Category 6: Sustaining Cultural Change—Programming to ensure the New Normal remains

The following should be included in your athletic departments return to campus roadmap.

These standards and strategies will be in constant flux and will be adjusted and increased as we continue to learn more about the pandemic and the best practices needed.

  • Personnel and Programming
  • Testing and Monitoring
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Social Distancing
  • Personal and Group Hygiene
  • Quarantine Procedures

Find your Category 1 checklist here.

For additional information and programming to ensure your institution is prepared for a return to campus and a return to sport contact and collaborate with USCAH.

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