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Some UCLA athletes can return to campus starting Monday

UCLA football players practice at Spaulding Field in March 2018.
UCLA football players practice on Spaulding Field in March 2018.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The entire UCLA football team and other athletes involved in fall sports who live locally can return to campus as soon as Monday as part of a four-phase plan to eventually resume competition in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The return to campus is voluntary and those who wish to remain at home will not be penalized. Other athletes will be allowed to return to campus in phases at a later date.

Athletes will undergo testing for the novel coronavirus upon their return to campus based on their commuting method. Those who fly back to campus will be isolated for seven days before being tested and allowed to resume workouts pending a negative test result; those who drive can be tested immediately.

Protocols will be put in place for those who test positive and need to be isolated until being cleared to rejoin their teammates.

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Housing options will remain flexible; athletes within commuting distance can remain at home and drive to campus for workouts, if desired, or return to their dorms or apartments on or near campus.

The Rose Bowl is facing tens of millions in lost revenue and an uncertain financial future due to COVID-19 and other pre-existing conditions.

While UCLA football coach Chip Kelly has said his team probably would need about six weeks to commence workouts and practice in advance of its season opener against New Mexico State on Aug. 29 at the Rose Bowl, the school has not determined a start date for formal workouts or training camp while waiting for clearance from local health officials.

A return to campus lasting between three and 10 days is the first of a four-phase plan to resume sports competitions. The second phase involves a return to athletic performance in groups of 10 or fewer athletes commencing agility and strength and conditioning drills. Phase three involves team practices and phase four is playing games.

The Pac-12 Conference had cleared member schools to open training facilities to players for voluntary workouts starting June 15, leaving it up to each school to determine whether it wanted to do so on that date or afterward based on local health guidelines. One member of the Pac-12’s COVID-19 advisory committee recently told The Times that adequate safeguards would be in place before athletes returned to campus.

“I feel very confident that the plan that we’ll come up will help keep athletes and staff members, coaches, facility members and students safe,” said Dr. Annabelle de St. Maurice, a UCLA assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases.

UCLA recently announced that only a small portion of classes would be held on campus for the fall quarter, with the balance being held online.

Dr. Annabelle de St. Maurice believes universities can keep Pac-12 athletes, staff members and students safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

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