HALIFAX, NS – The AUS will become the fourth and final U SPORTS conference to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its players, staff, officials and other personnel. U SPORTS is also mandating full COVID-19 vaccination by Nov. 8, 2021 for everyone involved with the U SPORTS National Championships.
With one day to go until AUS soccer’s season openers at UPEI, the conference revealed its health and safety policies for the 2021-22 season. Mandatory vaccines for all individuals “setting foot on the field of play” is the centrepiece of the new conference-wide protocol. The RSEQ, OUA and Canada West announced policies like this earlier in the summer.
The AUS shouldn’t have much trouble enforcing this, as all 11 member institutions have already mandated vaccines among at least the student-athlete level. The latest school to do that, Acadia, announced its rule on Sept. 1.
This rule still sets new guidelines though, as officials on and off the playing surface and other game day staff now must have the two vaccine doses or shop proof of two negative tests per week. Individual school mandates do not cover this.
Also in the AUS’s plan, any sanctioned indoor events will require spectators to wear masks at all times, besides when actively consuming food and beverage. Since these policies have been implemented for the 2021-22 season, it is implied these rules will remain all season unless otherwise stated in the future.
“As our communities adjust to living with COVID-19, we feel a responsibility to do everything within our power to protect the health of our student-athletes, coaching staff, fans and other stakeholders,” AUS executive director Phil Currie said in the statement regarding the conference’s decision to implement further measures. “We’re confident these measures are the right ones to take to ensure the safety of our participants and our communities.”
Not much information (except for certain schools like UNB and St. Thomas) have revealed capacity or spectator plans for indoor events in 2021-22. For outdoor events, masks aren’t required anywhere in the conference but depending on jurisdiction, gathering limits vary.
For instance, Nova Scotia allows for gathering limits of cohorts of 250 people outdoors, with most places during exhibition games opting to accommodate just one cohort. In New Brunswick, these rules don’t exist provincially but vary by institution.
More to come.