Brian Kelly Outlines Notre Dame’s COVID-19 Protocols
The University of Notre Dame announced Monday that among the 232 COVID-19 tests administered last week through Friday, four Fighting Irish football players tested positive and are currently in isolation, while six others through contact tracing are in quarantine.
None of the 10 participated in the 52-0 victory over South Florida this past Saturday. While not going into specifics on individual players, head coach Brian Kelly commented on the protocol that has been in place since June, when they returned to summer school on campus in June.
Kelly was first asked how the players affected can maintain some level of fitness over the next two weeks to prevent 14 days of impacting their whole season.
With the student-athletes who tested positive and in isolation, a number of different evaluations, including an Electrocardiogram (EKG) to monitor the heart, are mandated before getting cleared.
For the players under quarantine, the requirements for a return aren’t as pronounced.
“When they are able to test negative twice, we can begin a modified conditioning program with those guys,” Kelly said. “So when they come back after 14 days on their own, they have a modified quarantine workout program that gets them back and in pretty good shape.”
Among the players who were announced prior to last Saturday's game as unavailable were sophomore quarterback Brendon Clark, junior running back Jahmir Smith, junior slot Lawrence Keys III, junior defensive end Ovie Oghoufo, a pair of Buck linebackers in junior Shayne Simon and Marist Liufau, and cornerback TaRiq Bracy.
Other such as sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton (ankle) and graduate student wideout Ben Skowronek (hamstring) did not play because of injuries.
Because Notre Dame does have a bye Oct. 3 after playing at Wake Forest this weekend, the individuals under quarantine could conceivably be back for the Oct. 10 home contest versus Florida State.
The Atlantic Coast Conference mandates PCR tests several times during the week, but individual schools then have the flexibility to expand testing even more frequently.
“From our standpoint, right now certain segments of our team are getting tested every day,” Kelly revealed. “The higher risk areas ... those that fall under the close-contact, which are the linemen.”
The high-risk groups are based on the “Three D’s”: Distance, duration and direction.
“If you fall under those categories, you’re generally coming up with linemen,” Kelly said. “We’re testing those guys every day.”
A new challenge will be presented this week with Notre Dame’s first road game of the season at Wake Forest, located in Winston-Salem, N.C. Kelly said that had it been a night game, there might be some consideration given to traveling the day of the game to limit contact outside one’s own campus “bubble.” The kickoff is shortly after noon, so the team will depart the latter part of Friday.
“We’ll do everything as if it’s a home game for Friday,” Kelly explained. “All meetings, practice, post-meetings usually done in the hotel will be done here. We’ll eat here, and we’ll simply board the plane, fly, get in there in the evening, get off the plane and go to bed to lessen the contact in the hotel.”
Each player will have his own individual room in the hotel.
“Wake up in the morning, throw on a Superman cape and go beat Wake Forest,” said Kelly — before adding the team will have breakfast.
Last week, it was announced that first-year Florida State head coach Mike Norvell had tested positive for the coronavirus. Kelly reiterated that a plan is in place in case he or other staff members were to test positive.
“We have a succession plan in place for myself and each and every coach on the staff in terms of the responsibilities and the duties,” Kelly said. “Mine are not singular in terms of one coach taking over. There are different responsibilities. I’m not going to get into who that person is at this time. Hopefully, we don’t have to.
“We have it detailed out across the board at all positions, from special teams down to wide receivers, including the head coach … Could happen to anybody if you’re not careful.”
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