SAU athletics

Southern Arkansas University student athletics and staff have been tested for the COVID-19 virus.

Two student athletes and two athletic staff members at Southern Arkansas University have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, President Dr. Trey Berry said on Saturday.

Student athletes began returning to the SAU campus last Monday, and all were tested for COVID-19 prior to campus admittance. They were re-tested on Thursday.

The affected students and staff were among 107 athletes and athletic staff tested.

Berry said the athletes are isolated in campus housing specifically dedicated to COVID-19 management. Staff members are isolated at home.

Among seven athletes identified as contacts, three remain quarantined on campus and four returned home to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“I am very proud of our team of dedicated staff at SAU. We have been planning for these scenarios since March,” Berry said.

“Following guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and the CDC, SAU University Health Services, University Housing, the Athletic Department and the Risk Management Task Force have procedures in place and we were able to respond quickly to these situations. We continue to take action to keep our campus safe and as healthy as possible,” he said.

SAU is a member of the NCAA’s Division II Great American Conference. The GAC cancelled the remainder of its Spring 2020 athletic schedule in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether this fall’s collegiate sports schedule will be canceled remains an open question. Many athletic conferences have elected to cancel non-conference games in order to decrease possible exposure and to shorten seasons.

Some universities have cancelled their fall sports schedules in their entirety.

SAU is set to start its 2020 football season on September 12 in Shawnee, OK, against Oklahoma Baptist University. The Muleriders first home game will be September 19 against Southern Nazarene.

SAU announced last month that it had modified its Fall 2020 schedule due to the pandemic.

Classes will begin a week earlier than usual, on Tuesday, August 11. The semester will end Friday, November 20 – almost a week before Thanksgiving.

SAU will observe the Labor Day Holiday on Monday, September 7. Virtual classes will meet on this date. There will be no fall break this year.

Final exams will begin Tuesday, November 17, and the semester ends Friday, November 20. Fall commencement will be Saturday, November 21.

SAU ceased face-to-face classes on March 16, and moved all classes online on March 30. It closed residence halls on April 6.

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