By Harry Allison

Penn State football players will begin their return to campus next week, the athletic department has announced.

The Nittany Lions will begin a phased return process, with the first phase including 75 players returning Monday, according to the release. Those players have begun a prescribed quarantine in preparation for their return to campus and will be tested and quarantined upon their return.

“Following CDC and local government guidelines,” the release states, “as well as tracking and implementing recommendations coming from the NCAA Sport Science Institute and the Big Ten Conference’s task force for Emerging Infectious Disease, the Penn State Athletics sports performance team developed in-depth protocols for the student-athletes and staff. Student-athlete feedback and concerns also were part of the development process.

“The protocols include wearing of masks, daily health screening and small group activities, as well as additional usage and sanitation regulations facilities, including carefully guided access to buildings.”

The team is expected to return in four different groups and will have one trainer assigned to each group, according to a source with knowledge of the plan. The groups are not allowed to cross paths while in football facilities and the team will have Holuba Hall serve as its makeshift locker room.

And while the players are permitted to return, coaches are not yet allowed on campus. They’re expected to return in phase two of the process, but the timeline doesn’t include exact dates for when the program will move from phase to phase, according to the source.

Until coaches return, players will be permitted to lift weights in preparation for the season.

“Those student-athletes who are medically cleared may then participate in voluntary on-campus workouts beginning June 15,” the release states. “Those workouts will be limited in size (groups of less than 20 student-athletes) and will be supervised by Penn State’s performance enhancement and sports medicine staffs.”

The first week back on campus will include return physicals and testing for COVID-19. Practices are not allowed to resume until seven days after the team has been on campus and meetings are not yet allowed, according to the source.

The team will strictly enforce the following protocols, according to the release:

Education for all student-athletes, coach and staff on Penn State’s COVID safety protocols.

Mandatory daily health screening questionnaire and temperature check for student-athletes, coaches and staff.

Required use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Adherence to social distancing guidelines for meetings and workouts, including the use of smaller groups for performance enhancement session.

Enhanced cleaning for all athletics facilities.

Limited and monitored access to facilities.

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