ATLANTA — (Editor's note: The video appearing above this story relates to the Georgia High School Association's new guidelines for the return of sports activity.)
SEC sports activity will be allowed to resume on a voluntary basis on June 8, the conference announced Friday.
According to a release, the athletic activities can be held "under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution."
Gov. Brian Kemp, a strong proponent of taking steps to resume normal life amidst the coronavirus pandemic, praised the move on Twitter. The governor called it "great news and an important step" and said he was "looking forward to a safe return to sports this fall."
The SEC had earlier suspended sports activities through May 31 due to the pandemic.
The conference said it was instituting a number of safety measures "in addition to the standard infection prevention measures as approved by public health authorities." Those include:
- Enhanced education of all team members on health and wellness best practices, including but not limited to preventing the spread of COVID-19
- A 3-stage screening process that involves screening before student-athletes arrive on campus, within 72 hours of entering athletics facilities and on a daily basis upon resumption of athletics activities
- Testing of symptomatic team members (including all student-athletes, coaches, team support and other appropriate individuals)
- Immediate isolation of team members who are under investigation or diagnosed with COVID-19 followed by contact tracing, following CDC and local public health guidelines
- A transition period that allows student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sport activity following a period of inactivity
"The safe and healthy return of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and our greater university communities have been and will continue to serve as our guiding principle as we navigate this complex and constantly-evolving situation," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in the release.
In a statement, University of Georgia head coach Kriby Smart said the announcement was exciting, and added that they will be coordinating efforts to focus on keeping athletes and those they work with healthy.
“We’ll be working in the coming days on finalizing plans to implement the return of our players," Smart said. "I’m sure they are looking forward to returning and begin working toward what we hope is a regular season in the Fall.”
The SEC's June 8 date parallels a decision made earlier this week by the Georgia High School Association to allow resumed sports activities on that date.
The NCAA Division I Council voted earlier this week to lift restrictions on voluntary basketball and football workouts starting June 1.
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