As stay-at-home orders begin to be lifted around the U.S, school districts and sports leagues are seeking guidance on how to safely conduct their summer and fall seasons. The CDC has provided an in depth guide to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. In this post we have summarized some of the most important precautions sports organizers should take to keep their athletes safe. You can also click here to view the entire article from the CDC.
Understanding Your Exposure Risk:
- Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family members
- Increasing Risk: Team-based practice with social distancing, without full team competition
- More Risk: Team-based practice with full-team competition
- Even More Risk: Full competition between teams from the same geographic area
- Highest Risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas
Assessing Potential Exposure Opportunities:
There are a variety of actions sports organizers at the high school and youth level can take to help lower the risk of Covid-19 exposure. Athletic directors and organizers should keep these principles in mind when making decisions:
- Physical closeness of players: Sports that require frequent closeness between players may make it more difficult to maintain social distancing. For close contact sports play can be modified in the following ways to increase distance between players:
- Focus on individual skill building whenever possible
- Limit the time players spend close to others, if possible full contact situations should only happen during game-time situations
- Decrease the number of competitions during a season
- Amount of shared equipment and gear: It’s also possible that athletes and coaches can contract Covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. It’s important to minimize equipment sharing, and disinfect shared objects with an approved disinfectant germicidal cleaner.
- Ability to engage in social distancing: During times when your athletes are not practicing it’s essential they remain at least 6 feet apart. You can encourage social distancing by increasing space between players on the sideline, dugout, or bench.
- Traveling outside of the local community: Traveling outside of your community may increase the chance of exposing other players, coaches and fans to Covid-19. It’s important to actively monitor surrounding areas that have a large amount of Covid-19 cases.
- Nonessential visitors, spectators or volunteers: Limit any nonessential visitors or spectators to practices or games. You can also encourage spectators to wear face coverings or face masks!
Maintaining Healthy Environments:
- Cleaning & Disinfecting: Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day, preferably between uses. Ensure your staff develops a schedule for increased cleaning and sticks to a routine. It’s also important that all cleaning is done with approved disinfectant germicidal cleaners.
- Water Systems: Take steps to ensure that all water systems are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown. Drinking fountains should also be cleaned and disinfected daily however, you should encourage your coaches and players to bring their own water.
- Modified Layouts & Physical Barriers: Identify coaches and other staff members who can help maintain social distancing whenever possible. All drills should be spaced 6 feet apart whenever possible (during warmup, skill building, conditioning, etc.). If you must share facilities with another team consider increasing the time between practice and competition to allow one group to leave before the next group enters. You can also provide guides and physical barriers like SeparationScreen to keep coaches, players and spectators at least 6 feet apart.
This is uncharted territory for everyone and it’s important to work with players, coaches and parents to determine what type of precautions are practical, acceptable and tailored to the needs of your community. As always SeparationScreen is here to help assist in reducing the spread of Covid-19. You can click here to view our complete line of SeparationScreens and infection control supplies.