COVID Return to Play

Updated 1/25/22

Return to sport/activity exercise progression:

The student’s healthcare provider, school medical personnel, coaches and administrators are all responsible to ensure every student is both physically and emotionally prepared for a safe return to competition. Every situation and student is unique. Factors such as baseline fitness, infection severity, duration of COVID-19 symptoms and tolerance to progressive levels of exercise must all be considered. It is also recommended students participate in some full team practices before returning to formal competition for coaches to assess the student’s overall physical conditioning status and the student’s readiness for competition.

If your student is involved in a school athletic team and has tested positive for a COVID strain, the Kansas State High School Athletic Association requires specific information and steps to be followed before the student-athlete is able to return to practice/competition. This process has no impact on their return to school timeline.

Quarantine Protocol-

Your student will quarantine for 5 days starting from the onset of symptoms or the positive testing date (whichever date is first).

Return to School-

Your student may return to school on day 6 of quarantine if symptoms are improving. Masks to be worn during the school day and during practice/game till day 11..

Return to Play Process-

Please return any needed paperwork to Nurse Judy McMullen @ and to our University of Kansas Athletic Trainer Haley Reiff @

Asymptomatic students or students with mild symptoms:

  • Mild symptoms are defined as common cold-like symptoms, GI symptoms or loss of taste/smell; generally without fever or fever < 2 days.
  • Once symptoms improve the student may resume normal activities of daily living while in isolation and walk for light exercise provided symptoms continue to improve.
  • No formal medical evaluation or specific cardiac testing is required unless there is a specific clinical concern. If student/family has concerns, they should check in with their healthcare provider to determine if further clinical evaluation is needed.
  • Student may begin an individualized progressive exercise program* when at least 3-5 days removed from symptom onset or a positive test in the case of someone who remains asymptomatic.
  • Student should be evaluated by their healthcare provider if any symptoms emerge or worsen during the progressive exercise program.

Important Clarification for SMSD athletes:

  • Student athlete may engage in activities that maintain a healthy level of physical conditioning but will NOT be recognized by SMSD as any part of a progressive exercise program.
  • Progressive exercise program will be determined, implemented, and monitored by SMSD/KU athletic trainer in collaboration with coaching staff. Day 1 of RTP program is determined by school nurse/athletic trainer.

Students with moderate symptoms or cardiopulmonary symptoms:

  • Moderate symptoms are defined as fever > 100.4, chills, severe cough, or flu-like syndrome for 2 or more days
  • Cardiopulmonary symptoms are defined as chest pain, dyspnea, or palpitation
  • The student should be evaluated in-person by their healthcare provider and obtain written clearance prior to returning to participation in a school sports, spirit, or marching band program.
  • Additional cardiac testing may be considered.
  • Student should be at least 5-7 days from symptom onset and moderate symptoms should be resolved before beginning an individualized progressive exercise program*.

Students with severe symptoms:

  • Students with severe disease requiring hospitalization, including those diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), should undergo formal evaluation with a cardiovascular specialist prior to starting an exercise program.

Students who experience cardiopulmonary symptoms (exertional chest pain, excessive dyspnea, syncope, palpitations, or unexplained exercise intolerance) with a return to exercise:

  • The student should be re-evaluated by a MD or DO as additional cardiac testing should be considered, including cardiologist referral.

RESOURCES to help you navigate the return to play process:

Return to Play Progressive Exercise Program worksheet will need to be completed once your student-athlete has their healthcare provider clearance note. (Click here for the PDF copy of the progressive exercise program which outlines each day and stage for your student-athlete.)

Please note: For your student to be cleared to return to play they will be assessed by both our athletic trainer and coaching staff. The progression through this process and successful completion will be communicated to the student-athlete and parents by our IHMS athletic trainer. For most student-athletes, a return to practice/competition on day 7 is likely, but not a given. Any student who has an extended absence for illness of 3 or more days will engage in a progressive exercise program to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes.

Progressive Exercise Program Form

Athlete Extended Illness Absences Return to Play