by Keisha J Kelley
June 14, 2021
ATLANTA, GA. (06/14/2021) – The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) announced the return to regular season and championship competition beginning in the fall of 2021. This decision was based in large measure on the appreciable reductions across our league footprint with respect to new Covid-19 infections as well as the widespread availability of vaccine treatments. The return-to competition CDC based recommendations contained within the most recent NCAA publication relating to resocialization ( 2021 Summer Activities document) includes considerations specific to risk mitigation which in relevant part includes:
Vaccinated stakeholder recommendations
“The population level immunity in the United States has increased considerably. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physical distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Further, the CDC has stated that fully vaccinated individuals do not require quarantine or testing after exposure to COVID-19 unless they develop symptoms.”
Unvaccinated stakeholder recommendations
“Unvaccinated athletes and athletics personnel should consider wearing masks and/or remaining physically distant during all athletics activities unless the population has reached a critical threshold of 85% immunity and the community transmission is low.”
Additional risk mitigation recommendations
“Pursuant to CDC recommendations, fully vaccinated athletes and other fully vaccinated athletics personnel should be able to engage in summer 2021 athletics activities without wearing a mask or physical distancing. Specifically, the CDC states:
• You can resume activities that you did before the pandemic.
• You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
• If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel. However, you will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.”
“If the vaccination status of a visiting prospective student-athlete cannot be confirmed, then consider managing that individual as an unvaccinated person. More specifically, where campus-wide immunity is less than 85%: o Consideration should be given to requiring a negative polymerase chain reaction test two days before travel or negative antigen test one day before travel or immediately upon arrival. Consideration should be given to requiring masking and physical distancing throughout the campus visit.”
With respect to the protocols above relating to prospective student-athletes, the SIAC will urge all member institutions to extend and apply this protocol to all campus sport related event guests and attendees.
The guidance above shall be subject to evolving federal, state, or local, rules, and CDC regulations, and with respect to vaccinations applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.
For more information on the NCAA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit ncaa.org/covid-19.