Seven Arkansas State athletes across three sports have tested positive for the coronavirus during their return to campus, the school announced Thursday. All seven were asymptomatic, according to a statement from Arkansas State chancellor Kelly Damphousse.
"This is a day that we knew would come, not just at A-State, but for colleges and universities across America," Damphousse said in the statement. "Indeed, several universities have reported positive tests for employees and students during the past few days. To prepare for this inevitability, we have been developing COVID-19 mitigation procedures since we first became aware of the possibility of coronavirus appearing in our community in March. These protocols were developed in consultation with our local health officials, federal/state guidelines, and best practices that have been shared by our peer institutions across the country."
According to Damphousse, student-athletes who tested positive and are living off campus will self-isolate for 14 days. Those living on campus will be restricted to their residence hall for 14 days. The school will also conduct contract tracing, and anyone who has been in contact with the student-athletes who tested positive will also be quarantined.
Damphousse said all students and staff are being provided a face mask to wear on campus when unable to observe social distancing protocols.
"I do not wear a mask because I think that you are sick and it will protect me. I also do not wear a mask because I am trying to make a political statement," Damphousse said in the statement. "I only wear a mask because I know that even though I feel perfectly fine, I might have COVID-19. If I am infected and I am not wearing a mask, I could make you sick when we interact. While some might think that wearing a mask is not useful, I would rather not take a chance with your life."