TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Prepare To Start Checklist
- When to Start Considerations
- The Phase of COVID locally
- Risks of Mass Gatherings
- Explicit approval from your state & local government
- The ability to secure a place to play
- Your organization’s readiness to reasonably operate in a way that aligns with CDC Return to Play Considerations
- Risk is clearly understood and minimized
- Start Slow, Observe and Iterate
- Athlete’s Return to Activity
- Liability Considerations
- General Operating Considerations
- Emergency Protocols
- Reporting & Feedback
- Scheduling and Time
- Communication Considerations
- Tips for Communications to Secure Play Spaces and Resume Operations
- Tips for Communications to Parents
- Tips for Communications to Coaches and Officials
- Links to Other Organizations
Prepare To Start Checklist
Monitor When to Return
Review state & local guidelines and orders
Check the ability to secure your place of play from the property owner
Assess your organization's readiness and ability to meet local guidelines
Establish that safety, financial and other risks are understood and acceptable
Understand Liability & Minimize Risk
Alignment of return to government orders
Organizational readiness and willingness to comply with operating considerations
Understand insurance considerations
Understand waivers and communication
Understand appropriate signage
Understand the current legal environment
Develop a policy for anyone in your community who doesn’t comply with new guidance
Create an Operating Playbook
Review operating considerations from various authorities
Create a playbook and assign a team leader
Communication plans to all parties
Secure your playing space
Order any new requisite supplies (e.g. masks for coaches)
Communicate to Field Owners, Parents, Umpires and Coaches
Communication plan to secure playing spaces
Communication plan to parents, coaches and officials
Create a Learning & Feedback Plan
Open communication channels to parents, coaches and umpires for adjustments
Create a communication process for parents, coaches and umpires if someone on the team becomes sick
When to Start Considerations
The Phase of COVID locally
The CDC and White House defined a Path to Return in Phases. A phase is a 14-day period in which gating criteria have been satisfied. The timing of a phase is because 14 days are when virus symptoms generally appear. Gating criteria include things like lower new case rates and hospital visits. The link below shares some concepts of what type of activities may be available depending on the phase. Local health officials and the government will determine what phase, orders and rules apply to your location. Here are charts on state-level case rates
It is very important to understand that phases go both forward and backward. If there are additional waves of the virus locally, your area may move from a Phase III, to Phase II or I. Continue to monitor your local situation and act accordingly.
Risks of Mass Gatherings
An event is considered a “Mass Gathering” if the number of people it brings together is so large that it has the potential to strain the planning and response resources of the health system in the community where it takes place.
Large sporting events, depending on the number of people that are attracted to attend, may qualify as Mass Gatherings.
Member organisations shall assess their events following the CDC and WHO Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist for Mass Gatherings in the context of COVID-19. This is an operational tool that offers guidance for organisers holding meetings during the COVID-19 outbreak and that should be accompanied by the WHO COVID-19 Generic Risk Assessment Excel file available on the WHO website. It is advisable to conduct the risk assessment in cooperation with local Public Health Authorities, explaining and coordinating with them the specific baseball/softball measures to be implemented.
Explicit approval from your state & local government
There is no one answer for the entire country on when to Return to Play. The government’s authority on when is typically local. States and municipalities largely have authority in reopening communities. However, you need to do your own research on the decision-making for your area and be sure that there are clear orders that allow you to operate. If you are unclear, communicate directly to the appropriate office and ask. If you do communicate with the office, it may be helpful for you to have prepared your Return to Play plan and share how you intend to prepare and solicit feedback. While you need government approval, that alone does not necessarily mean it is time to Return to Play.
The ability to secure a place to play
In case you don’t own your own facility, operating approval from the government does not mean that you will have approval from the property owners. Property owners may not grant your organization the space for financial reasons, risk concerns or in some cases, their facility may remain closed even after orders have been lifted (e.g. school districts). Start communicating early with the property owner to understand the situation and be prepared to share your Return to Play operating plan to assure the property owner that you will operate responsibly. There are examples of communications and tips in the Communications section of this document.
Your organization’s readiness to reasonably operate in a way that aligns with CDC Return to Play Considerations
You will likely operate differently than you did prior to the pandemic as your organization returns to play. After you read through this document of considerations, consider changes you will make and if you are able to execute those changes effectively.
Risk is clearly understood and minimized
Even with approvals, a place and plan to play, you should still take time to understand the risks of your local environment (i.e. your county has orders lifted, but you know there is a flare-up in your town). You should also understand your legal liability and financial risks.
The CDC provides a useful Decision Tree to help.
Start Slow, Observe and Iterate
When you do return to play, consider opening with a 2-week practice plan before the regular season and narrowing attendance to focus on players and include minimal non-player attendees. This will give young people time to warm up, time for administrators and coaches to get new operating processes in place and to monitor the health of players and coaches.
Athlete’s Return to Activity
Athletes cannot return to their activities without considering the harmful effects of detraining. In fact, athletes may be exposed to situations of early fatigue due to reduced aerobic capacity or to injuries due to impaired muscle function, which can result in being counterproductive for his/her health.
When designing and carrying out physical exercise sessions, it will therefore be important to comply with certain indications in terms of intensity, frequency, volume and method of exercise. A gradual increase is very important: after a period of reduced training it is essential to understand the importance of following a period of gradual re-training. A resumption of physical activity by increasing both volume and intensity but without modulating recovery periods could lead to excessive fatigue or, in some cases, cause muscle injury or health problems.
The “physical reconditioning” should include a training program containing postural, stretching, core-stability and balance exercises to increase muscle tone and, at the same time, a program of endurance activities to improve aerobic capacity. Later it would be appropriate to gradually introduce the sport’s specific movements.
Until it is possible to return to full squad practices, outdoors and/or at the gym, the suggestion is to maintain an active lifestyle, by dedicating at least 45-60 minutes every day practicing activities that allow the maintenance of a good state of health combining aerobic activities with muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises. The workout intensity must vary according to individual physical and training conditions, as well as climatic conditions, possibly gradually increasing over time.
Concepts to Consider
Do not assume that lawsuits based on COVID-19 exposure will be covered by your liability carrier. Whether a lawsuit will be covered depends upon the language in a particular policy, the circumstances of the injury, and applicable state law. Article
To date, few COVID-19 liability lawsuits have been filed. Article
However, as the risk of COVID-19 exposure-related litigation increases due to the reopening of businesses, federal and state officials have begun to consider creating potential liability shields to help protect businesses from legal liability if they take reasonable efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Article
In the near term, create a Return to Play playbook. The playbook should optimize for safety and be consistent with federal, state, and local government guidelines. Also, consider industry suggested best operating practices. Once you make a plan, operate to the plan. If you observe situations that allow you to improve your plan, adjust accordingly. USOPC Example
Legal Defense Concepts That You Should Consult Your Own Attorney About
The most likely legal claim that youth sports organizations will face arising from alleged exposure to or contracting of COVID-19 at a practice or sporting event will be negligence claims based upon the failure to cancel a sporting event or otherwise mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Generally, assuming compliance with local, state and federal laws and regulations, businesses may be held liable only if they (1) were negligent in the operation of their business or (2) do not exercise ordinary or reasonable care to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn of hidden dangers, which typically requires a duty to inspect the premises to identify dangerous conditions. “Ordinary and reasonable care” is a fact-specific test that varies from state to state and even from jury to jury. Youth sports organizations, however, should give special consideration to duties imposed upon them by federal, state and other local governments and agencies, sports governing bodies, and if applicable, school districts and athletic associations. These duties could vary with respect to participants, spectators and other groups of individuals.
Waiver/Release With COVID-19 Language – Existing waiver/release agreements for minors and adults should be modified to add language releasing the youth sports organization from liability resulting from contracting illness such as communicable diseases including COVID-19 at such organization’s events. Or, a specific COVID-19 waiver/release may be used. Any liability waiver should be clear and unambiguous that the signer is knowingly subjecting their child or children, him or herself to the risk of being exposed to or contracting the COVID-19 virus, that despite any preventative measures being taken by the youth sports organization there is no guarantee that the signer will not be exposed to or contract the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and that by entering the sports organization’s premises and/or participating in or otherwise spectating at the sports organization’s events the signer could be increasing his or her risk of exposure to or contracting COVID-19. In any event, liability waivers have limitations and the degree of their enforcement varies among the states. Importantly, courts have not yet decided to what extent COVID-19-related liability waivers are enforceable, including whether or not a public policy reason exists to bar or otherwise limit their enforcement. Most jurisdictions will not permit the waiver of liability for intentional, willful, wanton, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct. Additionally, as noted below, many jurisdictions have placed restrictions and even bars on the enforceability of liability waivers with respect to minors. Consultation with your attorney regarding the modification or creation of a liability waiver/release is important.
Assumption of Risk – Spectators and participants likely assume certain known risks when they decide to attend or participate in a sporting event, such as injury. Due to the breadth of media coverage on the risks of COVID-19 and the many actions taken and restrictions imposed by various federal, state and other local governments and agencies on the general public, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 may be one of these risks. However, a waiver/release that expressly sets forth a spectator’s or participant’s voluntary acknowledgment and assumption of that risk can provide sports organizations with a stronger defense against lawsuits in the future.
Contributory or Comparative Negligence – Spectators and participants may share in the negligence to the extent that they did not practice personal discipline in taking precautions against transmission. This may result in a total bar or an offset against damages depending on state law. New protocols and guidelines put in place by sporting organizations should be explicitly made known to spectators and participants. This group, as a condition of their participation in or spectating at the sports organization’s events, should acknowledge their responsibility to abide by those protocols and guidelines.
Federal Volunteer Protection Act – The federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 provides certain immunity for volunteers of not-for-profit associations. There are also state law versions that are preempted by the federal act to the extent that the federal act provides stronger protections. These immunity acts do not apply to the extent of gross negligence or other wanton or willful behavior.
Federal or State COVID-19 Immunity – There is the discussion of a federal COVID-19 immunity act to protect businesses including sports organizations from some liability risk of opening up operations. Some states may also pass their own versions and/or governors may issue temporary immunity proclamations. For example, the governor of Alabama recently issued the first COVID immunity proclamation. These statutes and proclamations will provide some relief, but will likely exempt gross negligence or willful or reckless disregard for COVID-19 mitigation best practices. These proposed immunity statutes and proclamations have also not been tested in courts, and it is possible that courts may not enforce such laws or executive orders.
Parent Waivers of Liability on Behalf of Minors
Laws vary state to state with respect to the enforceability of minor waiver/releases. Minors are likely not legally competent to enter into a binding waiver/release, which would require a parent’s signature on the waiver/release. However, many states will not allow a parent to contractually waive their minor children’s right to sue for a sports-related injury. Additionally, the enforceability of the waiver/release could turn on whether or not the released party is a for-profit business or a nonprofit organization. A parental waiver/release on behalf of minors may be upheld in a minority of states.
Consultation with your attorney regarding the modification or creation of a liability waiver/release with respect to minors is important.
Any existing liability coverage should be carefully reviewed for provisions that may impact coverage for an injury based on COVID-19 exposure. Although normally general liability policies purport to cover claims and lawsuits for bodily injury, some liability policies specifically exclude injuries resulting from communicable diseases. Even without this exclusion, some insurers may argue that coverage does not apply for other reasons. However, insurers generally must provide a legal defense for claims that even arguably fit within the policy’s coverage, so without a clearly applicable exclusion, it would be fairly aggressive for insurers to outright deny claims for COVID-19 exposure.
If insurance coverage is not already in place, it should be expected that a large number of insurers will begin specifically excluding loss arising out of communicable disease and/or virus exposure. Any new policy should be carefully reviewed before purchasing with this point in mind.
You should consider posting conspicuous signage at sports facilities, warning of coronavirus risks and what steps can be taken to reduce such risks. The following is sample language that could be included on signage, which should always be reviewed by your local legal counsel to ensure compliance with any federal, state or local requirements.
Post signs in highly visible locations (e.g., at entrances and exits, and in restrooms) that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of germs such as by properly washing hands and properly wearing a cloth face covering
Find freely available CDC print and digital resources on CDC’s communication resources main page
Include COVID-19 prevention messages (e.g. videos) about behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19 when communicating with staff, volunteers, officials, and families. This could include links, videos, and prevention messages in emails, on organization websites, and through the team and league’s social media accounts.
Do not enter if you are exhibiting any signs of illness such as sneezing, coughing, sniffles, have a fever, or don't feel well
If you are repeatedly sneezing or coughing, you may be asked to immediately leave the premises
All players, staff, and spectators should practice responsible social distancing by remaining at least 6 ft apart whenever possible
All players, staff, and spectators should wear PPE such as face masks whenever applicable
Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer upon entrance, during the event, before and after you eat, and as you leave. Hand washing and hand sanitizer stations are provided
Avoid touching your face including your eyes, nose, and mouth
General Operating Considerations
A majority of this section comes directly from the CDC. There are links to original CDC documents throughout. As you make your own guide, many of the items in this section should be considered to be included. Your sport, age groups, locality and travel/tournament nature of your organization will affect what is appropriate for you.
Assessing the Safety Risk Levels of your Situation From the CDC
Physical closeness of players, and the length of time that players are close to each other or to staff. Sports that require frequent closeness between players may make it more difficult to maintain social distancing, compared to sports where players are not close to each other. For close-contact sports (e.g., wrestling, basketball), play may be modified to safely increase the distance between players.
For example, players and coaches can:
focus on individual skill building versus competition;
limit the time players spend close to others by playing full-contact only in game-time situations;
decrease the number of competitions during a season.
Coaches can also modify practices so players work on individual skills, rather than on competition. Coaches may also put players into small groups (cohorts) that remain together and work through stations, rather than switching groups or mixing groups.
Amount of necessary touching of shared equipment and gear (e.g., protective gear, balls, bats, racquets, mats, or water bottles). It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Minimize equipment sharing, and clean and disinfect shared equipment between use by different people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.
Ability to engage in social distancing while not actively engaged in play (e.g., during practice, on the sideline, or in the dugout). During times when players are not actively participating in practice or competition, attention should be given to maintaining social distancing by increasing space between players on the sideline, dugout, or bench. Additionally, coaches can encourage athletes to use downtime for individual skill-building work or cardiovascular conditioning, rather than staying clustered together.
The need for holding an Opening Ceremony and/or Medal Ceremony should be assessed carefully. If necessary, it should respect the physical distance and hygiene measures established for games.
Age of the player. Older youth might be better able to follow directions for social distancing and take other protective actions like not sharing water bottles. If feasible, a coach, parent, or other caregivers can assist with making sure that athletes maintain proper social distancing. For younger athletes, youth sports programs may ask parents or other household members to monitor their children and make sure that they follow social distancing and take other protective actions (e.g., younger children could sit with parents or caregivers, instead of in a dugout or group area).
Players at higher risk of developing serious diseases. Parents and coaches should assess the level of risk based on individual players on the team who may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as children who may have asthma, diabetes, or other health problems.
Size of the team. Sports with a large number of players on a team may increase the likelihood of spread, compared to sports with fewer team members. Consider decreasing team sizes, as feasible.
Nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers. Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations.
Travel outside of the local community. Traveling outside of the local community may increase the chances of exposing players, coaches, and fans to COVID-19, or unknowingly spreading it to others. This is the case particularly if a team from an area with high levels of COVID-19 competes with a team from an area with low levels of the virus. Youth sports teams should consider competing only against teams in their local area (e.g., neighborhood, town, or community)
Oversight and Leadership
Many Organizations are specifically assigning a Health Safety Manager to manage adjustments related to the Pandemic or have created an oversite body. The leader or body ensures safety policies and practices comply with any governing regulations from Federal, State, County and Local; align with the standards, guidelines and best practices of the youth-serving sector; and are reliably executed. The list of responsibilities for the Health Safety Manager among others, would include:
Develop baseball/softball and location specific Covid-19 Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist;
Act as the point person to coordinate with the local health authorities, especially with the identification, isolation and if necessary transportation of ill or virus exposed participants;
Oversee implementation of education, prevention, protection and treatment measures for the various groups of participants;
Designate the key support staff and their roles in the education, prevention, protection and treatment measures;
Document that all event participants have undergone appropriate training in personal safety and emergency mitigation measures (including those specifically listed in the CDC & WHO Risk Assessment Tools).
Promoting Behaviors that Reduce Spread From the CDC
Youth sports organizations may consider implementing several strategies to encourage behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Staying Home When Appropriate
Educate staff and player families about when they should stay home and when they can return to activity
Actively encourage sick staff, families, and players to stay home. Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisal, and ensure employees aware of these policies.
Individuals, including coaches, players, and families, should stay home if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
CDC’s criteria can help inform return to work/school policies:
Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
Do not allow spitting and encourage everyone to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of their elbow. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
Sneeze and/or cough in a tissue or the internal crease of the elbow. Avoid contact of hands with personal respiratory points.
Cloth Face Coverings
Teach and reinforce the use of cloth face coverings. Face coverings are not intended to protect the wearer, but rather to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 from the person wearing the mask (who may not have any symptoms of disease). Face coverings may be challenging for players (especially younger players) to wear while playing sports. Face coverings should be worn by coaches, youth sports staff, officials, parents, and spectators as much as possible.
Wearing cloth face coverings is most important when physical distancing is difficult.
People wearing face coverings should be reminded to not touch the face covering and to wash their hands frequently. Information should be provided to all participants on the proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.
Note: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
Babies and children younger than 2 years old;
Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious;
Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face-covering without assistance.
If hand washing facilities are available, support healthy hygiene by providing supplies including soap, paper towels, tissues, and no-touch/foot pedal trash cans. If hand washing facilities are not available, provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (for coaches, staff and older players who can safely use hand sanitizer)
Establishment of specific security distance requirements for each aspect and location of the event.
Consideration is to be given to CDC & WHO recommendations on social distancing.
Use of gloves and personal face masks by all event personnel;
Use of visors and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical personnel;
Use of physical barriers (e.g. plexiglass) at points of interaction between event personnel and spectators (e.g. concession or ticket stand).
Arrive to venue changed, avoid using locker rooms when possible
Avoid sharing personal devices such phones, computers, tablets, etc.
Avoid personal clothing/equipment being left in common places. Store inside personal bag always
Avoid sharing of competition equipment. Each athlete should have his/her own bat, helmet, glove, batting gloves, rosin bags, etc.
Provide personalised water bottles or disposable cups. Under no circumstances shall be shared.
Recommended protocol for the use of water bottles:
All athletes, officials and staff should have their own water bottle to prevent transmission of viruses and bacteria;
Bottles should be labelled and washed (with dishwasher soap) after each practice/game;
Cleaning of Venues
Thorough disinfection of common spaces before/after competition including:
Doping Control Station
Any other spaces that come into frequent touch
Establishment of sanitation stations with alcohol-based hand sanitisers and collection system for potentially infected waste (i.e. disposable tissues, masks, gloves, etc.) at all entrances/exits
All working spaces and provided facilities must be organised in a way that physical distancing is respected
In all the key accredited zones (athletes’ area, VIP, media, working spaces), hand washing/hand sanitation facilities must be provided
Provide disinfectant wipes and advise venue cleaning staff to disinfect door handles, toilet handles, bathroom faucet handles, etc. in all areas several times per day.
Encourage individual commute when possible
If car/buses need to be shared, ensure minimum security distance with a minimum of one empty seat between guests
All passengers shall wear a mask
Clean and disinfect vehicles after each ride
Keep record (day, time, route) of individuals transported in each service.
Avoid sharing rooms. If possible, participants should sleep in individual rooms
Avoid social gatherings in common areas
Meeting rooms shall guarantee a safe distance.
Meal shall be served following local health authorities’ guidelines for group meals
A physical distance shall always be observed (e.g. lines, dining tables, etc.)
Avoid having meals facing other individuals.
For group laundry, organisers shall provide individual laundry bags for each participant
Laundry staff shall wear protective mask, gloves and gowns while picking up and dropping off laundry
Laundry pick-up areas shall be disinfected appropriately after laundry is taken away.
Maintaining Healthy Operations From the CDC
Youth sports organizations may consider implementing several strategies to maintain healthy operations.
Protections for Staff and Players at Higher Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19
Offer options for individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (risk increases with age, and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at higher risk), such as virtual coaching and in-home drills that limits their exposure risk.
Limit youth sports participation to staff and youth who live in the local geographic area (e.g., community, city, town, or county) to reduce risk of spread from areas with higher levels of COVID-19.
Be aware of state or local regulatory agency policies related to group gatherings to determine if events can be held.
Identifying Small Groups and Keeping them Together (Cohorting)
Identification of the different groups of people involved in the event (i.e. athletes, coaches, officials, event staff, accompanying persons, venue personnel, etc.) and establish safety protocols for potential interactions among them;
Keep players together in small groups with dedicated coaches or staff, and make sure that each group of players and coaches avoid mixing with other groups as much as possible. Teams might consider having the same group of players stay with the same coach or having the same group of players rotate among coaches.
Consider staging within-team scrimmages instead of playing games with other teams to minimize exposure among players and teams.
Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations by cohort (group) or put in place other protocols to limit contact between groups and with guardians as much as possible. One example is increasing the amount of time between practices and competitions to allow for one group to depart before another group enters the facility. This also allows for more time to clean the facility between uses.
When possible, use flexible worksites (e.g., telework) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) to help establish policies and practices for social distancing (maintaining a distance of approximately 6 feet) between employees and others, especially if social distancing is recommended by state and local health authorities.
Gatherings, Spectators, and Travel
Avoid group events, such as games, competitions, or social gatherings, where the spacing of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained.
Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible – especially with individuals not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Avoid activities and events such as off-site competitions or excursions (e.g., watching a professional team compete).
Determination of the flow of different groups of people throughout the venue to avoid excessive gatherings and unnecessary contact, as well as to identify informational displays and sanitation station locations
Designated COVID-19 Point of Contact (Health Safety Manager)
Designate a youth sports program staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All coaches, staff, officials, and families should know who this person is and how to contact them.
Put systems in place for:
Consistent with applicable law and privacy policies, having coaches, staff, umpires/officials, and families of players (as feasible) self-report to the youth sports organization if they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days in accordance with health information sharing regulations for COVID-19
(e.g. see “Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts” in the Preparing for When Someone Gets Sick section below), and other applicable laws and regulations.
Notifying staff, officials, families, and the public of youth sports facility closures and restrictions in place to limit COVID-19 exposure (e.g., limited hours of operation).
Limit/set the amount of accredited media representatives allowed in the venue to ensure social distancing based on available space
The media centre should be prepared with at least 2m between each seat and each row of seats
Mandatory use of face covering masks when interacting with people
A minimum distance of 6 feet should be kept between photographers in photo positions. Available positions must be pre-marked
A minimum distance of 6 feet shall always be kept between media representatives and athletes, including in the Mixed Zone. Available positions should be pre-marked
The media representatives should go through the same health screening process as the rest of the accredited groups.
Leave (Time Off) Policies
Implement flexible sick leave policies and practices for coaches, officials, and staff that enable employees to stay home when they are sick, have been exposed, or are caring for someone who is sick.
Examine and revise policies for leave, telework, and employee compensation.
Leave policies should be flexible and not be punitive to people for taking time off and should allow sick employees to stay home and away from co-workers. Leave policies should also account for employees who need to stay home with their children if there are schools or childcare closures, or to care for sick family members.
Develop policies for return-to-play after COVID-19 illness. CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation and quarantine can inform these policies.
Back-up Staffing Plan
Monitor absenteeism of coaches and officials, cross-train staff and create a roster of trained back-up personnel.
Coach and Staff Training
Train coaches, officials, and staff on all safety protocols.
Conduct training virtually, or ensure that social distancing is maintained during training.
Recognize Signs and Symptoms
If feasible, conduct daily health checks (e.g., symptom checking) of coaches, officials, staff, and players safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
Youth sports program administrators may use examples of screening methods found in CDC’s supplemental Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open as a guide for screening children, and CDC’s General Business FAQs for screening staff.
Encourage any organizations that share or use the youth sports facilities to also follow these considerations.
Support Coping and Resilience
Encourage employees to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media if they are feeling overwhelmed or distressed.
Promote healthy eating, exercising, getting sleep, and finding time to unwind.
Encourage employees to talk with people they trust about their concerns and how they are feeling.
Consider posting signs for the national distress hotline: 1-800-985-5990, or text [CDC] TalkWithUs to 66746
Preparing for When Someone Gets Sick From the CDC
Youth sports organizations may consider implementing several strategies to prepare for when someone gets sick.
Advise Sick Individuals of Home Isolation Criteria
Sick coaches, staff members, umpires/officials, or players should not return until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
Isolate and Transport Those Who are Sick
Make sure that coaches, staff, officials, players, and families know that sick individuals should not attend the youth sports activity, and that they should notify youth sports officials (e.g., the COVID-19 point of contact) if they (staff) or their child (families) become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case.
Immediately separate coaches, staff, officials, and players with COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath) at any youth sports activity. Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on how severe their symptoms are, and follow CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick. Individuals who have had close contact with a person who has symptoms should be separated and sent home as well, and follow CDC guidance for community-related exposure (see “Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts” below). If symptoms develop, individuals and families should follow CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick.
Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone who is sick to their home or to a healthcare facility. If you are calling an ambulance or bringing someone to the hospital, try to call first to alert them that the person may have COVID-19.
Clean and Disinfect
Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them (for outdoor areas, this includes surfaces or shared objects in the area, if applicable).
Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning disinfectants, and disinfection products, including storing them securely away from children.
Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts
In accordance with state and local privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations, youth sports organizations should notify local health officials, youth sports program staff, umpires/officials, and families immediately of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws and regulations.
Work with local health officials to develop a reporting system (e.g., letter) youth sports organizations can use to notify health officials and close contacts of cases of COVID-19.
Sports activity and life in general have been significantly affected by COVID-19 prevention measures in place across the globe. Although our team sports are moderate in contact, there are several factors that each organiser will need to evaluate. Our traditional ways of competing will need to be greatly altered in many instances to allow us to be back on the field of play while minimising the risk of infection. Below are some
competition specific recommendations to be considered.
Any meetings necessary shall respect physical distance
The pre-tournament technical meeting with teams set up shall respect physical distance
Press conferences set up shall respect physical distance
No access of Media representatives to Team zones (i.e. dugout, clubhouse, etc.) should be allowed. Specific interview zones and protocols may be set up on a case by case basis
Officials involved in athlete’s ID control shall wear protective gear and wash hands thoroughly after finishing each team control.
Only one team shall be on the field at a time for warm-ups, BP, and Infield practice
If possible, avoid pre-game ceremonies (i.e. anthems, first pitch ceremonies, etc.)
No handshakes, no friendly gift exchange, no autograph signatures
Minimum physical distance of 6 feet at Home Plate meeting
If possible, avoid line-up exchange at home plate
No chewing tobacco, seeds or spitting at any time.;
Athletes shall not lick their fingers;
Minimum physical distance of 6 feet shall always be kept in the dugout. If there is not sufficient room, an alternate space may be assigned for non-essential personnel and/or inactive players;
Ball prep (mud rubbing) to be done by one appointed personnel with protective rubber gloves;
Use of different set of official balls for home and visitor teams while on defence;
Ball in-play taken out for appropriate cleaning/disinfection after play is finished;
Ball handlers shall wear protective gloves and apply hand sanitizer every half Inning.
No bat boys/girls shall be allowed
If a batter is not able to retrieve his/her own bat, the team representative shall pick-up wearing rubber gloves. Team representatives shall apply hand sanitizer and/or wash hands upon conclusion of the half inning.
Team meetings, including pitching visits, should maintain physical distance of minimum 6 feet;
Coaches may always approach umpire keeping a minimum distance of 6 feet;
Base coaches must always stay within their box;
Bases shall be cleaned every half inning;
Pitchers, catchers, and bullpen coaches must always maintain a physical distance of 6 feet.
Shall avoid any kind of handshakes / fist bumps between them or while interacting with team representatives
Shall keep physical distance between them and/or while interacting with other event participants
Shall wear mask while in the venue
Umpires shall wear masks and gloves
If ball is touched, use of hand sanitizer every half inning is recommended
Home Plate Umpire shall avoid coming in contact with catcher
Exclusive Sanitation & Hydration station with personal bottles to be set up near the field
Shall wear masks and gloves at all times
Should always work from restricted area and maintain physical distances
Shall not share phone or tablet
Tablet shall be thoroughly clean before and after use
Should always work from a restricted area and keep security distance
Shall not share personal phone or tablet
Avoid paper scoring when possible. Prioritize electronic scoring programs as alternative
Scoring tablet shall be thoroughly clean before and after use
Develop a written emergency protocol for hazards and threats that might reasonably affect persons participating in its programs and activities. Managers, supervisors, coaches and others should be familiar with the protocols and have access to them when needed. The section on “Preparing for when someone gets sick” has much of this.
Reporting & Feedback
Players, Coaches and others involved should report any symptoms they experience and if they become sick.
Scheduling and Time
Understand that as you constrain locker capacity or make other changes, things can take more time. Plan accordingly so you don’t unintentionally create queues and other congestion areas.
On the following pages, you will find tips and examples of communications to Property (Field) Owners & Government Agencies, Parents, Coaches & Officials
Don't wait until registration opens to communicate with Parents, Coaches, Umpires, and the broader community. Keep the community in the loop on what is going on even if you don't have all of the answers.
Provide a simple playbook and set of instructions and train your staff and athletes on it.
Over-communicate and be available for Q&A.
Understand Trauma and Families
As your organization communicates and Returns to Play, please remember that many children and families are going through challenging times. People have lost loved ones, lost jobs, been disconnected from friends and school and haven’t had the structure they are accustomed to. This creates a lot of stress that can show up in different ways. You can help reduce this stress through your communication approach. The Special Olympics shares the Bridges Model , (more on Bridges) which have some helpful insights on leadership in times of crisis.
Youth Sports are often the center of communities. With your voice, you have the opportunity to bring your community back safely and with empathy.
Emergencies or Big Adjustments
Have a plan to get important information and announcements out quickly to your community of Parents, Players, Officials, Coaches and Vendors. For example, there may be a COVID flare-up in your community, or a staff member or athlete tests positive.
Tips for Communications to Secure Play Spaces and Resume Operations
Your primary message and all communications should underscore the actions taken to ensure public safety. The most important of these is your Return to Play operating guide.
It’s important to note that municipality budgets will likely be under pressure due to COVID-19 related revenue issues. While important, field revenue is a small portion of a city’s budget. Still, look for creative ways to partner with your city and optimize the financial arrangement for both parties.
Every municipality has its own unique culture, values, and priorities. Take time to learn and understand your city at a deep level and tailor your approach for their culture, value, and priorities.
Overall, you will be best served by attempting to create a true long-term partnership with your municipality rather than a transactional approach. Understand your municipality at a deep level and keep public safety at the forefront of all conversations
Tips for Communications to Parents
Gently remind parents about the value of Sport for their child
Show empathy for the safety of family and the stress they have endured
Clearly explain what any new expectations are for the players, equipment and spectating
Share specific information about the timing of local start dates, if available
As applicable, a note on how any credits from the prior season will relate to registration this season
A point on waivers if there are any changes
As appropriate, a clear call to action, such as “register now”
Tips for Communications to Coaches and Officials
Show empathy for the safety of the Coach and their family
Clearly explain what any new expectations are for themselves, players and families
Remind Coaches and Officials that children have gone through a trauma which can affect how they behave
Share specific information about any upcoming virtual training or meetings
Share specific information about the timing of local start dates, if available
Links to Other Organizations
Government Agencies, Healthcare, Media & Research