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Return to Play guidelines released by Peru State College

Julie Rach
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

The Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) Council of Presidents (COP) has approved the Heart Promise, a detailed document that provides guidelines to each member institution on returning to play for the upcoming season.

The Heart Promise was developed by the 22-member Heart Return to Play Task Force and approved by the Council of Presidents. The full document is a flexible, amendable document internal to the conference that will guide institutional administrators of the conference to navigate the upcoming season. "The task force and the presidents have met weekly since May and will continue to do so throughout the academic year. We have built in a weekly review of each institution and will closely monitor the landscape of Heart athletics" said Heart Commissioner Lori Thomas.

What the Guidelines Cover

Items covered in the Heart Promise include, but are not limited to, the following:

Testing & Contact Tracing Information

Screening Procedures

Travel Protocol

Game Management Standards

Specific Rule Modifications for Fall 2020

Facility Disinfection and Preparation

Crowd and Fan Attendance

Communication Strategies

Each member institution will be given the autonomy regarding the fan attendance, how to handle ticketing, entry procedures, and occupancy at their respective venues while following their local and state guidelines. The Heart will require the use of face coverings at all conference competitions (indoor and outdoor).

Detailed information on each member institution's spectator policies will be posted on the Heart of America website (http://www.heartofamericaconference.com/) prior to competitions beginning on September 5 and 12 for fall sports.

"It is extremely important that we continue to work together as a conference to create the safest environment possible for the upcoming season," said Heart Commissioner Lori Thomas. "We are all committed to the safety and well-being of student-athletes and feel it is in their best interest to be in an organized environment which is managed by coaches and athletic departments. The Heart Promise will provide each institution the framework it needs to create the best possible outcome for the season ahead. We will continue to adjust our sails when needed and move forward."

The Heart Return to Play Task Force and COP will continue to meet weekly to monitor and review the progress of the conference as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peru State Participation

Peru State head athletic trainer Brent Melvin is a member of the Heart's Return to Play Task Force. Melvin has been meeting via Zoom with the group throughout the summer to help prepare the Brent Melvin guidance for the conference's members to have sports this fall. Melvin commented, "There has been a lot of careful contemplation put into the document in order for our student-athletes to return to play this fall." Continuing, Melvin added, "The document has changed almost weekly and will be a living document for guiding how our conference will operate this fall."

In addition, Bobcat athletic director Wayne Albury has taken part via the athletic director meetings and the weekly Heart Task Force meetings. Albury stated, "In addition to what the Task Force has done, there has been plenty of behind-the-scenes work at each institution as the plan allows for institutional autonomy in some situations." Concluding, Albury added, "One example of our planning is the work that project coordinator Brenda Lutz and associate athletic director Ted L. Harshbarger have done with our attendance plans in coordination with the Southeast District Health Department. There will be a press release coming out soon on our new procedures for the fall."

Peru State president Dr. Dan Hanson is a member of the Council of Presidents. Albury noted, "Dr. Hanson and I meet weekly and converse more often on what is occurring and work diligently to make the best decision for Peru State and its student-athletes and fans."