Since returning at the start of the school year, almost every single athletic program at UNO has been meeting for team workouts and practices. For four of these teams, practice has been halted for at least two weeks.
These halts came as 16 student-athletes on campus tested positive for COVID-19. All of the positive cases were asymptomatic when the tests were done.
This news brought a halt to offseason workouts for four teams: men’s basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. All four teams had at least one player test positive, resulting in all team members quarantining for two weeks.
The positive tests came as a result of widespread testing that UNO has been conducting for student athletes. This testing was put place after training for the season went from voluntary to mandatory.
“As we are getting into the season, we’ve got mandatory training [for UNO athletic teams], so we proactively tested all the student-athletes,” UNO Athletic Director Trev Alberts said. “In effect, you could argue that we were out looking for positives.”
The first round of mandatory testing was carried out on Aug. 21, which yielded three positive test results. The second round of testing was done on Aug. 28, when the rest of the cases emerged.
Alberts admits that navigating through this time of pandemic can prove challenging, but he is satisfied with the school’s response.
“We are not going to pretend as if [the athletic department] knows everything about COVID,” said Alberts. “We’ve decided to really rely on the experts, so there’s a Dr. Jane Meza, who is overseeing the approach for both [the University of Nebraska Medical Center] and for UNO. Basically it’s all being driven through Dr. Adi Pour, the Douglas County health department, and UNMC.”
Going forward, the university will look into more testing measures in order to keep athletes on campus. Alberts hopes that advancements in rapid testing could mean more frequent tests for student athletes. At the end of the day, though, Alberts know that in order for sports to return to play and for the safety of the student-athletes to truly ensured, everyone will have to be committed to the same goal.
“If we’re going to be successful, we need 100% of people buying in.”