The state of California on Friday provided health and safety guidelines required to begin football practice and to play games, an important step in playing Pac-12 football this fall, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury reported Friday.

These guidelines affect the four Pac-12 schools in California – Cal, Stanford, USC and UCLA – and the Mercury News calls the guidelines “manageable” by those schools.

The requirements to play games at home stadiums of the four Pac-12 schools all stipulate that games would be played without fans. 

One of the requirements is that football players and coaches must wear face coverings while on the sidelines, but not while on the field competing in a game.

The Mercury News report notes that local health entities would have to approve a resumption of play for each school. That would be from The City of Berkeley for Cal, Santa Clara County for Stanford and Los Angeles County for USC and UCLA.

Pac-12 and NCAA protocols also must be satisfied to begin practice or play games, but those have not been firmly established yet.

Click here for the entire State of California release on COVID-19 guidance, with the requirements for football practice and games starting on Page 24.

Cal is behind some other Pac-12 schools in preparation for a season, if a season materializes, because the Bears have not progressed to the second phase (mandatory workouts), a step that could have been initiated on Aug. 3 if local health officials had allowed it. The Pac-12 has said training camp can begin Aug. 17, and the first games are scheduled for Sept. 26.

For Cal, the protocols established by The City of Berkeley may be more significant than those established by the state.

To begin practice, the state guidelines say teams must develop a return-to-play plan, have regular COVID-19 testing administered by the schools, and cannot require athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19.

A key example in the guidelines is that "teams could consider testing at least 25% of their team and staff population every week."

Here is the guidelines on the start of practice:

california list 3

To resume intercollegiate competition without spectators, schools must ensure that the schools can provide testing and results with 72 hours of the game, ensure that both teams share testing results, provide notification of positive tests after competition, and ensure that adequate tracing resources are available.

Here are those guidelines to play games:

california list 3 b

The release states these are only interim guidelines, based on the information at this time.

The guildines begins with an introduction of basic guidelines to be followed, and includes this excerpt:

To help mitigate those risks colleges who wish to resume competition should provide strong protections for their student athletes, including allowing them the choice to opt-out of the season without the risk of a scholarship being revoked, reduced or cancelled, or any other kind of retaliatory activity. College athletic departments are also expected to vigorously enforce the testing and reporting protocols described below.

It recommends smaller groups, working outside rather than inside, providing six feet of distance, and a shorter duration of work.

Wearing face covering while on the sidelines is required, and travel can lead to more risk of transmission of the virus.

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