More Colleges Clarify Their Football Game-Day Protocols

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AB Today reported last week that Ohio State University plans to enforce mask-wearing within all indoor spaces at 103,000-seat Ohio Stadium, including club areas, elevators, first aid rooms, restrooms and the press box — regardless of an individual's vaccination status. Since then, other schools have made similar announcements regarding expectations for fans as schools hope to return to full capacity this football season.

Unlike Ohio State, Big Ten Conference rival Maryland expects unvaccinated individuals to mask up even while in the seating bowl at Maryland Stadium. "While wearing a mask outdoors is not mandated for vaccinated individuals, the CDC encourages all attendees — regardless of vaccination status — to wear a mask or face-covering while outdoors in crowded spaces, including athletic venues," the university's guidelines state, as reported Monday by 247Sports' Inside Maryland Sports. Wisconsin used similar language in a release Monday. "Masks will not be required but are strongly encouraged in outdoor public spaces, particularly for unvaccinated individuals," the release states. "Outdoor public spaces include the entry gates, concourses, concession stands and the seating bowl." The Badgers add stadium retail spaces, guest services areas and suites to its list of indoor mask-required zones.

In the Atlantic Coast Conference, Duke University adds an age stipulation — requiring masks within the indoor spaces of outdoor sports venues for fans older than age five. Like Ohio State, Duke also mentions game-day mass transit as falling under its mask mandate. "Masks/face coverings are required for all guests utilizing Duke Transit services – including game-day courtesy shuttles and accessible lift-equipped vans for accessibility assistance (when applicable)," state Duke's guidelines, released Monday.

Despite fans eager to return to watching their favorite college teams in person, Duke adds these caveats for Blue Devils followers. "Stay home if feeling sick. Guests should not attend a game if they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, new loss/change in taste or smell, or have recently tested positive for COVID-19," the university states, adding, "An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is a contagious disease that can lead to severe illness, with individuals over 65 years of age and with underlying medical conditions being especially vulnerable. By attending an athletic event on the campus of Duke University, the individual assumes all risks related to exposure to COVID-19."

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