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The Southeastern Conference on Friday revealed its initial guidelines to manage COVID-19 for a fall semester that includes a 10-game football season.

Using recommendations by the SEC's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, the league expressed its desire to focus on developing protocols to guide decisions related to the healthy return of athletic activities, which include team gatherings, practices, conditioning and competition.

"Our Medical Task Force is producing an effective strategy for testing and monitoring, which complements the vigilant day-to-day efforts of our campuses to establish and maintain healthy environments in which our student-athletes can train and compete," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. "Our health experts have guided us through each stage of preparation for the safe return of activity and, together with the medical staffs embedded within our athletics programs, we will continue to monitor developments around the virus and evolve our plan to meet the health needs of our student-athletes."

The SEC will coordinate centralized testing through a third-party provider to ensure consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the existing standard testing method for COVID-19.

Football players throughout the SEC and others in direct contact with the program will receive PCR surveillance tests at least twice weekly during competition, typically six days and three days prior to games.

All coaches and staff personnel will be required to wear face coverings on the sideline, and physical distancing will be employed to the extent possible.

Each institution is required to designate a COVID-19 protocol oversight officer who will be responsible for education and ensuring compliance with the SEC's COVID-19 management requirements.

Later Friday, the SEC revealed each league member's two additional cross-divisional matchups, with a detailed schedule that includes dates still to be announced.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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