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Central Michigan football players began arriving back on campus Monday, and Eastern Michigan athletes will start returning Tuesday as state colleges and universities try to get back to normal after a three-plus-month shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central athletes were being tested before returning to campus, told to go to their closest Rite Aid to take advantage of free testing. Eastern athletes will get tested on campus Tuesday and Wednesday.

Western Michigan officials haven't announced return plans yet, while Oakland University, which has the benefit of time given it doesn't have football, tentatively is planning for men's basketball players to arrive back on campus June 26, women's basketball players June 28, and the rest of its athletes later in the summer, as is typical for Oakland's other sports teams.

Rounding out the state's Division I mid-major schools, Detroit Mercy, a private university which like Oakland doesn't have football, hasn't announced its return plans.

Michigan State and Michigan athletes began returning to campus Monday.

“The health and safety of our students is always our top priority,” Central Michigan athletic director Michael Alford said. “We have been in constant communication and planning with campus partners and health officials in preparation for a return to campus.

"We will follow all state guidelines put in place and all activities will be voluntary as defined by the NCAA.”

Said Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee: "The overall safety and health of our student-athletes will always be our first consideration. Our team of physicians, sports-medicine, and sports-performance professionals has worked diligently to comprise a plan in accordance with public health protocols. We will strictly adhere to all re-entry phasing and protocols."

At Eastern, daily symptom checks will be administered to athletes and staff; team activities will take place in small groups to allow for social distancing; equipment and facilities will be sanitized after each use; athletes can't share towels or water bottles; masks will be required for athletes and staff during workouts; locker rooms will be off-limits; and there will be isolation protocols for athletes who show symptoms or test positive.

At Central, social distancing will be required, and recommended will be frequent hand-washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, and avoiding touching one's face; public and private spaces throughout athletic facilities will be routinely and thoroughly cleaned; and the university is working on establishing single exit and entry points for all athletic facilities, as well as the addition of numerous sanitation stations. There also will capacity limits.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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