With the largest crowd capacities allowed at the Walter Pyramid since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Long Beach State’s athletic department has been working on ways to ensure a safe environment for fans, players, and coaching staff.
As of right now, fans are only required to wear their masks indoors, but are being encouraged to wear their masks at all time while attending games at CSULB, Executive Director of Athletics Andy Fee said.
However, starting Monday, Sept. 20, fans will need to provide proof of vaccination if they would like to attend a game, however, more information will be sent out regarding the process at a later date, Fee said.
“With a testing and vaccination policy that focuses on keeping everyone as safe as possible, we believe we are prepared as best we can for the year ahead knowing that things may change depending on the virus,” Fee said.
In addition to fans providing proof of vaccination, all players and coaches must be fully vaccinated unless they are exempted for religious or medical reasons by the university.
Currently, 93% of CSULB’s student-athletes are vaccinated and that number is expected to increase over the next two weeks, Fee said.
Furthermore, all athletes must take a weekly PCR test and up to 2 to 3 more rapid antigen tests, depending on the team’s game schedule, an effort taken “to keep COVID-19 cases to a minimum while competing for championships in the classroom and on the field of competition,” Fee said.
“Our mission is to enrich the lives of our student-athletes through academic and athletic success while embracing an inclusive and diverse environment for our Beach family,” Fee added.
Masking and social distancing will also be enforced as much as possible for players during practices and games.
While there are no directives on required social distancing at the moment, venue staff members will be at games to remind fans about wearing their masks properly and enforce campus policy.
Fans have already filled the Walter Pyramid this month as the women’s volleyball team returned to action for the first time in nearly two years on Saturday, Aug. 21, splitting a four-set exhibition match against Pepperdine University.
“We are really grateful that we are back in action,” head coach, Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer, said. “I want to thank our admin and everyone that has brought us back safely. It was great to see the girls out there, having a good time and compete.”
Following echoing practices with empty stands, the volleyball players once again remembered what it was like to feel the electrifying sounds of fans cheering them on as they went on to tie the match after being down two sets.
“I was so happy to see people I know in the stands, and people I didn’t know cheering us on,” said outside hitter, Kashauna Williams. “They came out here after 600-something days to support us. That made me feel really good.”
Although sports are making their return to campus, CSULB’s athletic department is still following public health and campus health officials directives, meaning the protocols set in place are subject to change at any time.
“It has been quite a challenge the past 18 months to be certain,” Fee said. “In the end, our student-athletes, coaches, and staff have shown resilience and determination working to train and compete, while fulfilling academic goals.”