031321 Cal Poly Football 28.JPG

Cal Poly's Fenton Will (52), Matt Shotwell (42) and Brandon Davis (27) pursue Southern Utah quarterback Justin Miller during the game in March that was played in an empty stadium. Fans will return to the stadium for the Mustangs' home opener set for Sept. 18 against South Dakota.

Cal Poly is welcoming fans back to its athletic events this fall and the university has established guidelines with the assistance of the NCAA and county and state health departments, the school announced Friday.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, recently fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, Cal Poly will require fans attending indoor events, like women's volleyball, to provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination.

At outdoor events, like home football and men's and women's soccer games, the school is not enacting any testing or vaccine measures on attendees. Also, face coverings are not required at outdoor events. Rather, the school is "strongly encouraging" face coverings for all who attend outdoor games.

The school announced Friday that these guidelines were developed with assistance from the NCAA, San Luis Obispo County Public Health and the California Department of Public Health.

"The health and safety of Cal Poly's student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans remains the top priority," the school said in a press release Friday. "Guidelines may be updated at any time based on evolving public health guidance or updated requirements from health authorities or governing bodies."

The school said that, for outdoor events at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, facial coverings are “strongly recommended” for all fans.

Cal Poly is set to host South Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 18 in its first home game of the football season. Last March, Cal Poly hosted its first football game amid the pandemic with no fans in attendance. Cal Poly held indoor athletic competitions with no fans in attendance last school year.

Mott Athletics Center attendees for volleyball matches, the only indoor events this fall, are required by the California Department of Public Health to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to an event.

The school said proof of vaccinations consists of the actual card, a photo of the card or a QR code verifying that attendees have been vaccinated. Proof of a negative test must include documentation from the testing agency, the press release said.

Facial coverings are required for all volleyball fans at all times, unless actively eating or drinking.

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Some universities have announced they are requiring proof of vaccination or negative tests prior to games at their outdoor venues, mainly in areas with rising COVID-19 cases and low vaccination rates.

LSU, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is mandating proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter its stadium for football games.

"With the significant threat presented by COVID-19 across the state of Louisiana due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, LSU will require all Tiger Stadium guests 12 years of age and older to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to entry," the school said this week.

The Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL are requiring proof of vaccination at their home games inside Allegiant Stadium, a domed venue. 

According to ESPN's Heather Dinich, Tulane, in New Orleans, became the first FBS school to announce a requirement of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test for fans at games. Dinich reported that Oregon and Oregon State then instituted the same mandate. No schools in California have a similar mandate in place.

Cal Poly said Friday that fan interaction with coaches or athletes at both venues will not be allowed. That mandate includes family members and friends of individuals participating in competition.

"Teams will depart to the locker room after the game without interacting with event attendees," the school said. "As a result, teams will not hold autograph sessions this season."

Cal Poly also asked that fans refrain from coming to campus if they do not feel well and to remain home to monitor symptoms and seek medical attention as needed.

Fans not comfortable attending games with these guidelines in place will be accommodated for ticket refunds, the school announced. Cal Poly said refunds may be requested via the ticket office at 805-756-4849 or email tickets@calpoly.edu. Ticket office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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