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2021 DI Women’s Basketball Championship health and safety protocols announced

Testing, distancing and contact tracing requirements apply to Women’s Final Four and all rounds of tournament

Following the recent announcement that San Antonio and the surrounding region would play host to the entire 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, the NCAA and local health authorities have formalized the COVID-19 health and safety protocols to be used during all rounds of the tournament.

The protocols outline testing, physical distancing and contact tracing requirements before the 64 teams arrive and throughout their stay in the tournament.

“Our emphasis is on the safety and well-being of everyone participating in the event,” said Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA chief medical officer. “By working with local health officials to develop protocols and administer COVID-19 testing, we are confident we will provide a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, administrators and officials.”

All Tier 1 official travel party participants will be required to undergo and document seven consecutive daily negative COVID-19 tests before arrival in San Antonio. One of the seven tests must be a PCR test. If participants test positive or are placed under quarantine, they will be managed by the local public health authority and cannot travel to San Antonio until their period of isolation or quarantine is completed.

Diamond Health will serve as the testing provider, with responsibilities that include administration of daily COVID-19 tests for Tier 1 individuals upon arrival and throughout the tournament. To support needed medical services, the NCAA will work with a local health care provider.

The NCAA will arrange charter bus and/or air travel for all Tier 1 participants. All teams participating will be housed in Bexar County hotels for the duration of their active participation in the tournament. Meals will either be in hotel rooms or in physically distanced meal rooms with assigned seating.

Except during practice or competition time on court, all Tier 1 participants will always observe physical distancing and masking. Exceptions to universal masking are while alone in the hotel room or during prearranged and approved mealtimes.

All Tier 1 participants will wear contact tracing devices throughout the tournament when actively training, specifically during practices and games. These devices, coupled with video analysis, provide data showing the total time individuals were within 6 feet of a newly infected individual with COVID-19 during a 24-hour period. Such data will be shared with the identified contact tracers, primarily in Bexar County and supported by Travis and Hays counties as needed, to assist with timely contact tracing assessments regarding the need to quarantine participants. If close contact time with another individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 is less than 15 cumulative minutes over 24 hours, then quarantine may not be required.  

COVID-19 testing and contact tracing will not be required for asymptomatic Tier 1 individuals who are at least two weeks post-infection and within 90 days of the first known date of infection. These individuals will still be required to wear masks and physically distance.

The protocols also address game attendance, with up to six guests per Tier 1 participant (up to 408 guests total) allowed in each venue per game. Those admitted will follow the established county and venue guidelines for attendance. The guests will be prohibited from interacting in person with any of the Tier 1 participants during the entire tournament. They will be seated in physically distanced family clusters. The final attendance policy will be announced before the championship.