Sample COVID-19 Return To Activity Guidelines For AYF/AYC Organizations
(Note: These are generic guidelines developed from CDC, state, and governing body sources. Sport specific additions, deletions, and changes to these guidelines should be made. In addition, these guidelines should be modified to comply with state and local laws and guidelines as regards COVID-19. As the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down, we expect to receive more relaxed revised guidance in the near future and updates will be provided.)
Updated 5/26/2021 – See blue font areas for recent updates. Returning visitors should always refresh the page to see the latest changes.
COVID-19 And Amateur Sports
The virus that causes COVID-19 can infect people of all ages. While the risk of serious illness or loss of life is greatest in those 65 years of age or older with pre-existing health conditions, persons in every age group can become infected with COVID-19 and some may become seriously ill or even die.
With rare exceptions, COVID-19 is not claiming the lives of our children. However, a child with a mild or even asymptomatic case of COVID-19 can spread that infection to others who may be far more vulnerable.
COVID-19 is spread from person to person through contact that is close enough to share droplets generated by coughing, sneezing, speaking, and even just breathing. COVID-19 can also be spread by touching objects where contaminated droplets have landed followed by touching of mouth, nose, or eyes. Due to this easy manner of transmission, an infant, child, young person, or adult who is infected with COVID-19 can spread the infection to others they come in close contact with, such as members of their household, coaches and players. Infected persons with mild or even no symptoms can spread COVID-19.
Due to these risks, sports organizations are adopting and implementing return to play protective guidelines such as the ones listed below to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission. Many of these guidelines have been adjusted for youth in sporting activities and and a result are not as strict as what could be applied for adults in other social and business settings.
Parents should monitor the health of their children and not send them to participate in sports events if they exhibit any symptom of COVID-19. Adult participants should do the same. They should seek COVID-19 testing promptly and report results to the team COVID-19 coordinator or other team/league staff given the implications for other participants, families, and staff. Parents of minor participants and adult participants should protect any vulnerable persons in the same household with whom they come into frequent, close contact. They should also be aware of the enhanced risks for those age 65 or over and/or with compromised immune systems for 14 days after such frequent, close contact.
Recent updates from CDC Considerations From Youth Sports Administrators (Updated Dec. 31, 2020) indicates that the primary mechanism for COVID spread comes from the air and not from surfaces or equipment. The NFHS Revises Guidance On COVID-19 Transmission During High School Sports (Feb. 2, 2021) indicates that the majority of sports related spread from COVID comes not from sports participation, but instead from social contact. Take this new information into account when deciding which mitigation techniques will have the largest impact.
Social Distancing + Face Masks + Limiting Group Socialization Outside Of Sports Field = Winning Formula According To Latest Research
The following are minimum guidelines to reduce COVID-19 transmission risks for players, staff (team and league), parents/guardians, and spectators. The use of the term “event” applies to all practices, games, tournaments, and other approved activities.
Note: Select and modify the provisions below which reflect the requirements of your state and local authorities as well as the latest scientific research on the spread of the virus.
- COVID-19 Coordinator: Appoint a COVID-19 coordinator to oversee all aspects of the COVID-19 risk management plan including customization, implementation, monitoring, updates/changes, communications, staff training, regulatory compliance, documentation, and answering staff, player, parent/guardian and spectator questions about COVID-19 concerns.
- State And Local COVID-19 Guidelines: In addition to these minimum guidelines, you should follow all state and local guidelines as regards COVID-19 and youth sports including but not limited to start dates and limitations on crowd sizes. CDC guidelines are meant to supplement but not replace the more important state and local health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
- Waiver / Release: An approved Minor waiver/release with COVID-19 language form should be signed by all parents/guardians and players prior to participation. An approved Adult Waiver/Release with COVID-19 language should be signed prior to participation by all team and league staff who are employees, independent contractors, or volunteers. Or, a stand alone COVID-19 waiver/release may be used in addition to the regular waiver/release agreements.
- Signage: COVID-19 warning signage should be conspicuously posted at entry, exit, and in bathrooms warning of COVID-19 risks and what steps can be taken to reduce such risks such as social distancing, use of face coverings, frequent hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer, and enhanced risks to those with underlying conditions and over the age of 65.
- Distribution: This document should be emailed to all staff, players (if appropriate), and parents/guardians prior to participation in the first event. In addition, this document should be posted on the sports organization’s website and any applicable social media.
- Spread Out Scheduling Of Practice And Games: There should be enough time between practices and games to allow one group to vacate the premises before the next group enters as well as for proper sanitation of surfaces and other equipment.
- Stay Home When Appropriate: Players, staff, parents/guardians, and spectators should stay home (or the motel under isolation if at a tournament) when they are showing signs of COVID-19, have a temperature, or have had close contact with a person with COVID-19.
- If COVID Symptoms Exhibited At Event: If a staff member, player, parent/guardian, or spectator exhibits symptoms during an event, they should immediately be separated and sent home or to a health care facility depending on the severity of the symptoms.
- Duty To Disclose, Quarantine, And Return To Activity: If a staff member or player has tested positive for COVID-19, exhibits symptoms but has not been tested, or has had close contact (additional close contact considerations), such staff member or parent/guardian on behalf of player must immediately notify the COVID-19 coordinator and must remain in quarantine until meeting state or CDC Criteria For Discontinuing Home Isolation. Return to activity should be cleared by the COVID-19 coordinator based on CDC guidance.
- Notification Of Third Parties: The COVID-19 coordinator should notify local health officials, staff, and family members immediately of any lab confirmed case of COVID-19 for any staff member or player while complying with local and state privacy/ confidentiality laws as well as with HIPAA and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
- Daily Screening: If feasible, conduct pre-event observation and/or questioning of all players and staff about the existence of any COVID-19 symptoms including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or known close contact with person who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19.
- Social Distancing: All staff, players, parents/guardians and spectators not of the same household should practice social distancing of 6 ft. whenever possible.
- No Player to Player Contact: There should be no player to player bodily contact until permitted by state and local mandates or guidelines.
- Number of Teams at Practice: Limit the number of teams who use a practice field at the same time to allow for proper social distancing and groupings of players.
- Groupings of Players During Training Sessions/Practices: Maintaining 6 ft. between players in a group, groupings of players should be limited to 10 players with groups at least 25 yards apart. The number of players in a group may increase or decrease depending on state and local mandates or guidelines.
- Huddles During Games and Practices: Staff should avoid putting players into traditional huddles. Staff should communicate plays and assignments to players with verbal cues, hand signals, or placards without the use of a huddle.
- No Congregation: Staff, players, parents/guardians, and spectators should not congregate prior to the event and should stay in cars until right before warm ups and should avoid other groups that are leaving the prior event. Team staff, players, parents/guardians, and spectators should quickly exit after the event and go directly to their cars without congregating with other teams or spectators in common areas.
- Team Check In Process:Team staff and players should continue social distancing during the team check in process for competitions. There should be a single point of contact for teams during events.
- Pre-Game Warm Ups: During pre-game, players and staff should maintain the 6 ft. distance if possible during warm ups and drills and should only have close contact during actual competition.
- Staff Face Coverings: Staff are encouraged to wear face covering whenever within 6 ft. of another player, staff member, or parent.
- Player Face Coverings: Players are encouraged to wear face coverings in close contact areas and situations where applicable. Players should be allowed to wear face coverings in competition should they choose to do so and long as they don’t compromise their safety.
- Parent / Spectator Face Coverings:Parents and spectators are encouraged to wear face coverings whenever they are at the facility and within 6 ft. of a person not of the same household.
- Personal Hygiene: Staff, players, parents/guardians, and spectators should practice proper hygiene, wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol), abstain from touching their face (mouth, nose or eyes), refrain from spitting, and cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw tissue in the trash. If no tissue is available, then coughing or sneezing into one’s elbow is recommended. In addition as a back up, players and staff should have their own hand sanitizer available for use.
- Player Equipment: Player provided equipment should be kept in a bag and should be spaced to encourage social distancing. Players should bring their own disinfectant wipes to wipe down their own equipment between use.
- Shared Equipment: The use of team provided equipment such as tackling dummies and blocking sleds should be limited to the greatest extent possible and should be disinfected between each use if possible. Balls should be disinfected after each play or drill. An adequate supply of balls will allow for balls to be changed out for disinfecting after each play or drill and allow the next play or drill to continue without interruption.
- Water Bottles: No team or dugout coolers should be provided. Parents/guardians should provide separate marked water bottles or sports drink for their child.
- No Contact: No Handshake Policy: A strict no contact policy will be observed for customary game-related activities such as pre-game coaches’ handshakes, umpire-coach-player introductions, and post-game handshakes between members of opposing teams. Instead, officials, players, and coaches should use verbal queues such as saying “good game”, without shaking hands, high-fiving, or fist-bumping.
- Facility Modification: Facility entrances and exists should be set up at separate locations whenever possible. Discontinue the use of physical posting of brackets, rules, etc. and instead post online.
- Facility Washing / Hand Sanitizer Stations:The facility owner/operator and/or sports organization should provide hand washing and/or hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility and near dugouts.
- Facility Sanitation: The facility owner/operator and/or sports organization should regularly clean and sanitize all common areas including dugouts, other seating, water fountains, bathrooms, concession stands and similar areas between games and activities. The facility owner/operator and/or sports organization should also provide cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer near all dugouts or other player seating areas. See CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting your facility including what cleaning products to use and steps for safe disinfectant use.
- Personal Food or Snacks: If food or snacks are brought to practices or games, there should be no sharing of food or snacks, except between members of the same household.
- Concessions: Concession staff should wear gloves and face coverings; practice social distancing whenever possible with co-workers; frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and after all potential contamination events; may use hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) but not as a substitute for hand washing; frequently sanitize all surfaces; mark off 6 ft. spacing for patron lines; and minimize handling of cash, credit cards, and mobile devices whenever possible.
- Before The Event: Team staff should wipe down and sanitize all dugout and other sideline seating areas including railings and equipment racks.
- After The Event: After the completion of the event, the team staff should remove and dispose of all trash.
- Take Shower / Wash Clothes: Players and staff should take a shower and wash all clothing after every practice or game.
- Awards: All team or player awards will be presented wrapped up and given to the team manager, or his/her designee. There will not be any presentation on the field.
DISCLAIMER AND HOLD HARMLESS/INDEMNIFICATION
THIS SAMPLE COVID-19 RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN IS MEANT TO PROVIDE GENERAL GUIDELINES AND EDUCATIONAL AWARENESS TRAINING AND IS NOT AN ALL ENCOMPASSING PLAN. THIS SAMPLE PLAN MAY CONTAIN INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MAY OMIT CRITICAL INFORMATION. EACH SPORTS ORGANIZATION SHOULD CONSULT OTHER SOURCES AND EXPERTS IN ORDER TO CUSTOMIZE THEIR OWN PLANS. NO LEGAL ADVICE IS BEING PROVIDED. THE PURPOSE OF THIS PLAN IS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF LIABILITY. THIS PROGRAM IS NOT A SAFETY PROGRAM AND DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE SAFETY OF STAFF, PARTICIPANTS, PARENTS/GUARDIANS, SPECTATORS, HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS OR OTHER THIRD PARTIES. SADLER AND COMPANY, INC.; DBA SADLER SPORTS & RECREATION INSURANCE DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY RESULTING FROM THE DISSEMINATION OF THIS PLAN. IN EXCHANGE FOR RECEIPT OF THIS INFORMATION, SPORTS ORGANIZATION AND ITS RESPECTIVE DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, ADMINISTRATORS, EMPLOYEES, VOLUNTEERS, AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS AGREE TO HOLD HARMLESS AND INDEMNIFY SADLER AND COMPANY, INC.; DBA SADLER SPORTS & RECREATION INSURANCE AND ITS RESPECTIVE DIRECTORS, OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES FOR ANY CLAIMS OF BODILY INJURY (INCLUDING ILLNESS OR SICKNESS), PROPERTY DAMAGE, PERSONAL INJURY (EX: SLANDER, LIBEL, FALSE IMPRISONMENT, ETC.), ADVERTISING INJURY, BREACH OF CONTRACT, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY VIOLATIONS OR OTHER DAMAGES (INCLUDING REASONABLE ATTORNEY’S FEES) TO THEMSELVES OR THIRD PARTIES.