What happened with Boise State’s gameday protocols?

A lack of testing capacity has forced Boise State University to call an audible on Albertsons Stadium pandemic protocols.

B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press asked Boise State to explain its decision to roll back its protocols, despite rising statewide coronavirus case numbers and record COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Here’s the key piece of the Boise State response:

“State entities, including colleges and universities, cannot require proof of vaccination as a condition for accessing state facilities or programs. While individuals can show proof of vaccination as an alternative to showing a negative test result to enter the stadium, without the ability to offer every person entering the stadium a test, we cannot move forward without violating the law.”

This goes back to April, when Gov. Brad Little issued an executive order banning state agencies from requiring “vaccine passports.” That means state universities cannot require vaccinations for people planning to attend a campus event, such as a football game.

On Sept. 17, Boise State said it would require students to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test — or proof of vaccination — in order to attend a home game the following evening. At the time, Boise State said the vaccine-negative test requirement would apply to all fans for the team’s subsequent home game, scheduled for Saturday.

However, the university changed course late last week, citing a decline in campus cases. In an after-hours news release Friday, Boise State said it would rescind the vaccine-negative test requirement and shift to random student testing.

The news release did not say the vaccine-negative test might violate state law, but it cited a shortage of tests.

“Because of COVID case rates in Idaho, testing capacity throughout the state remains strained,” Boise State said last week. “Given the limited capacity for testing, the university is prioritizing its capacity to test Idahoans who are symptomatic, at high risk of contracting COVID, or have had a known exposure.”

Listen: Boise State President Marlene Tromp talks about pandemic protocols — and more — in our latest podcast.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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