SEC announces COVID-19 testing and masking protocols for fall sports

The SEC officially announced this morning its COVID-19 management requirements for fall sports that calls for testing at least twice a week for football.

The recommendations were made by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

The SEC will coordinate centralized testing through a third-party provider to ensure consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing.  Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the current standard testing method for the COVID-19 virus. Alternative testing methods may be considered if sufficient data develops to support those methods.

Each institution is required to designate a COVID-19 Protocol Oversight Officer who will be responsible for education and ensuring compliance with the SEC’s COVID-19 management requirements. 

The Task Force’s initial requirements for fall SEC sports include testing requirements, procedures for infections and contact tracing, and protocols for quarantine and isolation.  Similar requirements will be developed for other SEC sports before their competition seasons begin.

TESTING:

FOOTBALL: Student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least twice weekly during competition, typically six days and three days prior to competition.  The Task Force recommends exploring alternative testing methods that will accommodate a third test, in addition to the two required PCR tests, that will provide for the reliability and rapid response necessary for diagnostic testing in a timeframe closer to competition.

VOLLEYBALL AND SOCCER: Student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least twice weekly during competition, with one to occur three days prior to the first competition of the week.  The Task Force recommends exploring alternative testing methods that will accommodate a third test, in addition to the two required PCR tests, that will provide for the reliability and rapid response necessary for diagnostic testing in a timeframe closer to the first competition of the week.

CROSS COUNTRY: Student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least once per week during competition, with that test to occur three days prior to each competition.

MASKING

FOOTBALL, VOLLEYBALL, SOCCER: All coaches, staff and non-competing personnel will be required to wear face coverings on the sideline and physical distancing will be employed to the extent possible.

CROSS COUNTRY: competing student-athletes are required to wear a face covering at the starting line, which may be removed when proper distancing has been achieved.  Coaches and staff associated with cross country competition are expected to utilize social distancing to the extent possible and will be required to wear a face covering during pre- and post-competition.

Due to the constantly changing realities around the pandemic, the requirements and testing strategies developed by the Task Force will continue to be reviewed and updated as new information becomes available.  The requirements are being developed as minimum standards for SEC programs to enact and serve to build on recommendations of the Autonomy 5 Medical Advisory Group and the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines. The SEC anticipates an additional pre-season report from the SEC’s Task Force by August 31.

The SEC announced in July that student-athletes in all sports who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.

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