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ACC announces changes to COVID-19 rescheduling, mitigation policies

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Vaccinated student-athletes excluded from mandatory testing; Double forfeits are on the table

NCAA Football: ACC Kickoff Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced changes and updates to their Covid-19 Rescheduling process for the 2021-22 season.

For fall sports, teams that cannot play because COVID-19-related issues left them without enough players will have to forfeit. Their opponent will be given the win. If both teams can’t play because of coronavirus issues, both teams will have to forfeit and be given a loss in the conference standings.

The game can still be rescheduled if those COVID factors are directly associated the conference’s Game Discontinuation Considerations listed in the Medical Advisory Group Report.

For Florida State, those rules will apply specifically to the football, volleyball and women’s soccer teams at this point.

The ACC’s also updated that report as well to give universities and student-athletes incentives for boosting their vaccination rate.

Athletes who have received their vaccine will no longer have to take part in the surveillance testing program while their unvaccinated counterparts will continue to receive weekly tests. How often depends on how much of the team has received the shot as well.

For teams with a vaccination rate above 85-percent, that means testing will happen a minimum of once per week. Teams below that 85-percent mark will be tested no less than three times per week.

“The Medical Advisory Group has adjusted protocols based on the lessons learned last year, the availability of vaccines and the current state of the pandemic,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, Chair of the ACC Medical Advisory Group and member of the infectious disease division at Duke University Medical Center. “Just like last year, there may be a need to adjust as the pandemic evolves and we will be prepared to do so in the best health interests of our student-athletes.”

Those protocols include coaching staff, travel party and support staff that are in close contact with the players and the universities do have the option to test them more than the minimum set out by the ACC.

That same 85-percent benchmark will allow teams to relax social distancing and masking while in meetings and meals as well.

During play, masks may still be required in the bench area regardless of the person’s vaccine status. But that decision will fall to the home school to set the rules.