BOISE — Boise State reversed course Wednesday and provided updated COVID-19 testing results for the athletic department after saying last week it would no longer release such information.
And the results weren’t as bad as some feared.
Boise State reported just four positive tests among the 230-250 student-athletes, coaches and staff tested since it began returning to campus in early June.
The Broncos initially announced “multiple” positive tests on June 8 from the first wave of student-athletes that were tested before returning to voluntary workouts, but said the following week they wouldn’t provide anymore results moving forward due to privacy laws.
Confusion arose earlier this week when the University announced campus was closing due to eight positive or presumed positive tests on campus. It didn’t specify if the cases were from the athletics department or general campus, but voluntary workouts were shut down until Sunday due to the results — fueling speculation from some that the athletics department was no longer releasing the results because of a high number of positive cases.
Boise State said Wednesday it still is not comfortable providing weekly updates because of “potentially violating FERPA laws” but did say “moving forward it’s been determined that we will provide periodic updates.”
The announcement of four positive tests means the Broncos have had a maximum of two positive tests in the past two weeks of testing as student-athletes, coaches and staff return to campus since they already reported “multiple” on June 8.
Boise State said three of the four positive tests were during the initial return to campus testing, while one was detected during a followup test once they had already returned to campus.
“Very few numbers,” Boise State associate athletic director for sports performance health and wellness Marc Paul said Wednesday during a Zoom interview with reporters. “There are schools with a heck of a lot higher numbers. … So far we’ve been very fortunate with what we’ve had.”
Paul acknowledged that expecting no positive tests would be impossible. The hope is to develop a plan to minimize the cases by testing and isolating as soon as possible.
“Look, we know we’re going to get positives,” Paul said. “Everybody is going to get some. What that number is and what you do with it and how it progresses from there, nobody knows that.”
Boise State is requiring all student-athletes to sign a COVID-19 consent waiver before being allowed to return to team activities.
The document, which was obtained by the Idaho Press through an open records request, is called a ‘novel coronavirus acknowledgement and screening consent form’ and is included as part of a 22-page packet all student-athletes must fill out when they return to campus.
Athletic departments around the country are requiring similar waivers from student-athletes.
The main purpose is to inform student-athletes of the risks involved with returning to campus and participating in workouts and the possibility of contracting COVID-19. All student-athletes must agree to regular risk and symptom screenings and formal testing for the coronavirus and its associated antibodies prior to being cleared to participate.
Student-athletes must initial that they “agree to or understand” several bullet points, including that “by participating in athletics at Boise State University I am at risk of contracting COVID-19 and will report all symptoms to my team medical personnel.”
They also must initial that they agree to all daily required tests and screenings related to the coronavirus and that if they test positive, “information regarding my positive test will be shared with the appropriate Boise State Sports Medicine and department personnel and reported to the required reporting agencies as established by the State of Idaho.”
Boise State also requires the student-athletes to agree to a number of ‘public health standards’ including wearing masks at all-times in facilities and while on the Boise State campus, except when ‘proper social distancing can be guaranteed during outdoor workouts.’
Student-athletes also must agree to follow other physical and social distancing measures including staying six feet from others, avoiding gathering in groups or crowded places and using appropriate hand and cough hygiene.
Boise State released a 37-page document to the media highlighting the policies and procedures involving student-athletes, coaches and staff returning to campus. Included is Boise State’s plan to limit travel to ‘essential team and game personnel only’ and to implement physical distancing on bus trips by potentially using extra busses.
Any student-athlete, coach or staff member that tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to go into isolation for 14 days, according to the plan.
Paul said all student-athletes will be retested for COVID-19 before allowing them to resume voluntary workouts once campus reopens next week.
“This is definitely all a work in progress,” Paul said. “It’s been a challenge, mostly because it’s never happened before. We just simply don’t have the history to draw off of to predict future events. …This is really something we’re taking on step at a time and see where it goes from there.”