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SEC announces COVID-19 medical protocols | Here is how it will affect fall sports

The conference says coaches will be required to wear face masks on sidelines during games.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced its COVID-19 protocols for the fall 2020 athletics season Friday morning.

The list of management requirements was recommended by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force. The group has been meeting since April to ensure a healthy return to athletics.

In a statement the conference said, “These standards are intended to increase the likelihood of early identification and help mitigate the potential impact of the virus.”

The SEC is mandating two COVID tests per week for high risks sports like football.

The task force also recommends that an alternate testing method be explored that would allow for a third weekly test.

All coaches, staff and non-players on the sidelines will be required to wear a mask during the duration of games.

Competing student-athletes shall wear a neck gaiter that can be used for timeouts, conferring with coaches on the sideline, etc. At this time, face shields are not a suitable replacement for a face mask/neck gaiters for non-competing student-athletes, coaches and other staff on the sidelines.

The SEC announced last month that, “Student-athletes in all sports who choose not to participate in collegiate 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.”

In the statement released by the conference, the SEC also noted that it expects the guidelines to change. 

"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 SEC's statement reads. "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."

They anticipate an additional pre-season report from the SEC’s Task Force by Aug. 31.

The SEC announced last week it will play a 10-game football schedule with a Sept. 26 start date to the season but has yet to release a schedule.