COVID-19 vaccines will be required for Savannah State and SIAC athletes

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Student-athletes in the state of Savannah will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in sports in the next school year after the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced a new policy on Tuesday.

“In accordance with this policy, all SIAC student-athletes, athletic staff, coaches, officials and ancillary groups (for example, coaches, officials, marching bands, dance and cheers) participating in sponsored sports by SIAC must be fully immunized with a CDC-authorized COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with CDC guidelines, ”a statement posted on the SIAC website said.

Student athletes may be exempt from the requirement if they receive a campus-approved exemption for medical or religious reasons. This exemption will not excuse the student-athlete from COVID testing in accordance with guidelines set by local and county health officials as well as any additional campus requirements, the statement said.

SIAC Commissioner Gregory Moore said the increase in COVID-19 cases involving the delta variant weighed in on the decision.

“In part, against the backdrop of rising COVID-19 infection rates, student-athletes are a particularly vulnerable stakeholder group who, due to their athletic participation, are required to travel off campus and to compete and interact with student-athletes on other campuses, ”Moore said in an email exchange. “These sports-related activities not only increase the risk of exposure to our student-athletes, but also increase the risk of exposure to their classmates and other campus stakeholders once these athletes return to campus. ”

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Moore said it would be a campus-based decision whether there would be COVID-19 restrictions for fans attending games. He said scientific data was behind the decision to create the policy, which he hopes will be supported by SIAC member schools.

“In light of recent infection data and the extremely high percentage of newly infected who are not vaccinated, and although I have not conducted a SIAC stakeholder survey, I can say for the record that I haven’t encountered much resistance at all, “Moore said in the email exchange.” In fact, on the contrary, the feedback I have received from these groups has been overwhelmingly positive. “

The SSU football team are scheduled to start their season in Valdosta state on September 4. Football coach Tiger Shawn Quinn was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but SSU athletic director Opio Mashariki released a statement.

“In light of the new SIAC return-to-play requirements, we are reviewing our procedures to ensure they align with those of the conference. We will provide further information at the end of the review, ”Mashariki said.

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Moore said SIAC is not the only organization taking action to protect its athletes, students and employees from COVID-19.

“More than 500 colleges and universities require vaccination of all students before returning to campus,” Moore said. “So I think it’s important to know that SIAC is not alone when it comes to our approach to vaccination. We are not even the first NCAA DII conference to call for vaccination. On a personal level. , it’s frustrating to see all of the Covid-19 conversation going on that isn’t rooted in facts or data. “

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Dennis Knight covers the sport for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at [email protected] Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN


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