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UA waiver doesn't mention covid-19

by Tom Murphy | June 18, 2020 at 7:19 a.m.
The Wild Band of Razorbacks sculpture stands Wednesday, June 3, 2020, outside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas athletic department is requiring returning athletes to sign a standard waiver form releasing the university from liability regarding injuries or other harm, though the language in the waiver is not specific to the coronavirus as it has been with some other institutions.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette requested and received a copy of the 10 pages of athlete release forms as well as a six-page covid-19 daily symptom screening check list Wednesday.

Athletes are required to fill out the symptom screening list, which is an online program, on a daily basis.

Razorback athletes began screenings in early June to set the stage for the June 8 reopening of a limited number of weight rooms and training rooms on campus. It was the first time athletes had been allowed back on SEC campuses for training or conditioning since March 18.

The UA allowed back previously enrolled athletes in football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, soccer and volleyball in the first phase of its return-to-campus plan.

Athlete pledges and waivers designed to raise awareness of the coronavirus pandemic, and to encourage athletes to accept responsibility for their hygiene and practices to prevent the spread of the virus have been making headlines in recent days.

At Ohio State, athletes being asked to sign "The Buckeye Pledge" -- essentially a waiver saying they will not sue the university if they contract covid019 -- before they returned to on-campus activities has been in the news. The Ohio State "pledge" reportedly contains an "acknowledgement of risk" section, while waivers at some other schools do not.

On Wednesday, news broke of a similar pledge at Missouri, which calls for players to self-monitor, to not enter an athletic facility if they show signs of illness, and to wear a mask if social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible.

Waivers at several other schools, including Tennessee, Indiana, SMU and others have been publicized recently.

The six-page symptoms screening form for the Razorbacks is comprehensive, and it requires answers to wellness questions such as the presence of a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, headaches, muscle pain, sore throat, dizziness, chest pain, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, and many other symptoms.

The screening also requires athletes to state whether they have had close contact with anyone suspected of or diagnosed with covid-19 and whether they have left the state since their last workout.

Athletes filling out the daily form must also acknowledge that they agree to notify a trainer, coach or the university if they experience any changes in health during the day, and that they have been provided with and understand the university's guidelines for the use of athletic facilities.

The UA's athlete release forms have long been a standard practice. A section of the waiver portion of the form underwent minor revisions this year, but not specifically due to the coronavirus outbreak, a UA spokesman said.

The language in the forms would appear to cover any kind of illness, including covid-19, as it asks the signer to agree to "indemnify and hold harmless" the UA for any "loss, damage, injury, illness, dismemberment or death" related to athletic activities while on UA property or at UA sponsored or associated events.

Other issues in the waiver forms involve student privacy laws, medical information consents, a concussion management form, a helmet policy (for football players) and medical treatment consent.

Athletes under the age of 18 are required to have a parent or guardian sign the forms.


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