Under new COVID-19 protocols, the Southeastern Conference will not require fully vaccinated individuals to participate in the league’s surveillance testing protocols.
ESPN reports that as long as there are no superseding restrictions from a local health authority, fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks beyond their final dose — who exhibit no symptoms will not be required to quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure.
According to a document which announces the updated protocols from the SEC Medical Task Force, “individuals who have been fully vaccinated … are not required to continue in the surveillance testing program but should continue with mitigation strategies.”
The SEC became the first Power Five athletic conference to make such a change, adopting the regulation in March.
“The SEC, in consultation with the other Autonomy Five (A5) conferences, has relied on the advise and counsel of medical experts to determine a responsible approach for a safe return to athletics should the current status of the pandemic allow for such activity,” the SEC Medical Task Force document says.
Other leagues, including the American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12, have not yet adopted new testing protocols — though the ACC did adopt a similar change to its quarantine policies.
One conference, the Sun Belt, announced a change to its testing protocols this week. Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill told ESPN on Tuesday that fully vaccinated individuals won’t be subject to regular testing.
"Right now, our policy is that if you're fully vaccinated, you do not have to be in the testing protocol, and you are not subject to contact tracing, and I would expect that that policy would continue on in the fall," Gill told ESPN. "And so that will give us an opportunity to kind of look normal. We're excited to invite band and spirit back; we're excited to invite fans back. We haven't made all those kinds of determinations on what those policies will be, but our intention is to have the fall of 2021 certainly look closer to the fall of 2018 and 2019, rather than the fall 2020, and welcome back our fans fully, and welcome back band and spirit to our football games."