Play Safely

Play Safely

Sports and activities look a bit different this season because of COVID-19.

Coaches, participants and parents can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 within sports teams and facilities, by understanding Health Department guidelines.

Participation in activities is voluntary and every participant/family should evaluate the risks and benefits of participating. Parents or guardians can access our risk assessment chart as they consider their participation. Even when all mitigation measures are taken, the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 cannot be completely eliminated. Those with medical conditions should be particularly aware of their increased risk of having severe complications of COVID-19.

Overview:

The COVID-19 Toolkit for Organized Sports and Activities was created by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department as a guide to help your sports team or facility reduce the spread of COVID-19 during athletic events and organized activities.

According to the CDC, sports that require physical contact or close interaction, are played indoors, and share equipment may pose a greater risk for COVID-19 infection or transmission. More frequent, longer and closer interactions equal higher risk. Coaches should adhere to strict precautions to not only mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 but limit their players’ risk of a potential quarantine that would remove them completely from the competition setting for 14 days.

Sports can be classified into three categories: high contact, moderate contact, and low contact. More frequent, longer and closer interactions equal greater risk for COVID-19 infection or transmission. Therefore, low contact sports offer a lower risk for disease transmission where high contact sports offer higher risk.

Breakdown of Contact Sports

  • High contact sports include basketball, wrestling, ice hockey, tackle/flag/touch football, martial arts, rugby, water polo, competitive cheerleading and lacrosse.
  • Moderate contact sports include baseball, softball, dance team, fencing, floor hockey, field hockey, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and volleyball.
  • Low contact sports include swimming, tennis, gymnastics, water skiing, bicycling, canoeing/kayaking, track and field events, golf, horseback riding, skating (ice, in-line, roller), skateboarding, weightlifting, badminton, bowling, golf, fishing, and riflery


Guidance for General Sports and Physical Activities

Guidance for General Sports and Physical Activities:

  • Screen each team member at the beginning of each practice and before each game for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms. Any individual with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and they should seek testing.
  • Practice physical distancing of six feet in all areas.
    1. This includes among players when they are not actively engaged in play. Space chairs on the sidelines six feet apart for players who are not in the game.
  • If physical distancing is not possible (i.e. contact sports) then all players will be considered close contacts if a player tests positive for COVID-19 and all players will have to quarantine for 14 days. Close contact is defined as closer than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes (cumulatively) OR any physical contact for any length of time.
  • Yelling can increase the spread of COVID-19, so it is highly recommended that staff and coaches not remove their mask when projecting their voice. When not actively coaching, coaches should be a role model and demonstrate to players proper mask wearing.
  • Face coverings must be worn by all spectators over the age of 11, according to current City of Springfield Code, Chapter 58, Article XIII, Section 58-1102
  • Require players to wear face covering while not actively playing (i.e.: on the sideline; during halftime, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer should be widely available.  Participants, coaches and officials should clean hands frequently.
  • Consider shortening game times and modifying gameplay to minimize contact.
  • Further minimize player contact by eliminating actions such as handshakes, high fives, and team huddles.
  • When traveling outside of city limits, consider other ordinances and regulations in place in neighboring communities as well as their current case count. More cases and lower restrictions will result in a higher risk of potential exposure.  
  • Avoid playing against teams from communities that do not require quarantine for close contacts of positive individuals. Speak directly with opposing sports team prior to competitions to ensure that other participating students are not ill.
  • If the school or organization hosts multiple teams (i.e. freshman, sophomore, junior varsity and varsity) do not intermix members of each team. Keep practice separate and only allow individuals to play in their respective team's games.
  • Outdoor activities are considered to be lower risk than indoor activities.
  • Ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by reviewing recommendations from the EPA and ASHRAE.
  • Water and other drinks should not be shared.
  • Minimize the sharing of equipment.
  • When bus transportation is required, create a seating chart with six feet of space between individuals. Keep as many windows open to allow for best possible ventilation as weather allows. Require individuals to remain masked during travel.
  • Have team members travel to and from away games with members of their own households only.


Guidance for Sporting Facilities

Guidance for Sporting Facilities:

  • It is especially important that organizations require face masks be worn by all spectators as yelling/cheering for their team can increase the spread of COVID-19. The current ordinance in the City of Springfield requires masking for anyone twelve and older, but it is highly recommended for children between three and eleven as well. Facilities have the ability to adopt stricter guidelines for their guests such as requiring masks be worn by younger spectators and coaching staff.
  • Record attendance of both participants and spectators at each game. Include their name and contact number in case they need to be reached in the event of an exposure.
  • Spectator areas should be clearly marked off to allow for physical distancing between household groups.
  • Designate one-way traffic, where possible. During games, provide one entrance and one exit for spectators. If possible, provide a separate entrance and exit for each individual team’s spectators. Additionally, providing another single entrance and exit for each competing team is ideal.
  • Mark six feet spacing for spectators to wait in line wherever lines may form.
  • Prohibit food in stands/spectator areas. Consuming food and drink requires removal of face coverings which substantially increases the risk of disease transmission.
  • Stagger shifts and schedules for practices and games
  • Close common areas (e.g. breakrooms, meeting rooms, etc.) where athletes and spectators are likely to congregate and interact.
  • Leave adequate time between each practice or events to allow for thorough cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces, equipment and spaces
  • Clean and disinfect each piece of equipment after every use.
  • Consider closing the facility for certain periods during the day for complete cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Provide disinfecting wipes for individuals to wipe down sporting equipment surfaces that are in direct contact with skin (or body) after each use.
  • If possible, screen individuals as they enter the facility.
  • Utilize PA system, staff and volunteers to remind individuals to wear their mask properly and practice physical distancing.
  • When disposable wipes or other disinfecting products are not available, most common household disinfectants such as a 10% bleach solution, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol and most common EPA-registered products that states it kills viruses may be used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on bottle.
  • Add signage reminding players and spectators to remain masked, practice physical distancing and wash their hands frequently.
  • If possible, screen individuals as they enter the facility.
  • Utilize PA system, staff and volunteers to remind individuals to wear their mask properly and practice physical distancing.
  • When disposable wipes or other disinfecting products are not available, most common household disinfectants such as a 10% bleach solution, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol and most common EPA-registered products that states it kills viruses may be used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on bottle.
  • Add signage reminding players and spectators to remain masked, practice physical distancing and wash their hands frequently.
  • Role model appropriate mask wearing
  • Consider all other local guidelines of participating teams who may be traveling to your facility. Avoid allowing teams from communities that do not require quarantine for close contacts of positive individuals to participate in competition within your facility.

Guidance for Organized Activities

Guidance for Other Organized Activities:

  • Limit indoor activities and events when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Outdoor gatherings should be limited, and six feet should be maintained between participants/families.
  • Organizations should require face masks be worn by all participants, group leaders and spectators, even when outdoors. The current ordinance in the City of Springfield requires masking for anyone twelve and older, but it is highly recommended for children between three and eleven as well. In group activities where physical distancing is not possible, groups/teams should be kept small and participants should remain in stable groups to reduce the spread of any potential exposures.
  • “Stable” means that the same children are in the same group each time you meet
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Limit the use of shared items.
  • Organizations should screen all participants at each meeting for fever COVID-19 symptoms. Any individual with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and they should seek testing.  
  • Record attendance of both participants and spectators at each activity. Include their name and contact number in case they need to be reached in the event of an exposure.
  • For activities and clubs that don’t require in-person interaction, consider meeting virtually.
Myths-Sports
Myth #1: My child played in a close contact sporting event. The next day, we learned a member of the opposing team who had also played in the event tested positive for COVID-19. Because the positive individual was on the opposing team, my child does not need to quarantine.

Truth: When considering close contact sports such as basketball, wrestling, softball, baseball, etc. physical distancing in play is not possible. In sporting events where physical distancing is not possible (i.e. contact sports) then all players who actively participated in the game will be considered close contacts if a player tests positive for COVID-19 and all players must quarantine for 14 days. 

Myth #2: If my child is a close contact (see definition above) of a COVID-19 positive individual and test negative for COVID-19, then s/he can stop quarantining.

Truth: A close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual may not begin showing symptoms for up to 14 days after an exposure. A negative COVID-19 test is only a snapshot in time and indicates an individual is not currently testing positive for the virus. A person who has contracted COVID-19 is contagious up to 48 hours before symptom onset so people can be spreading COVID-19 before symptoms appear. Quarantine is required for the full 14 days after a known COVID-19 exposure to help reduce any potential transmission.

Myth #3: If I wear a mask then I do not need to worry about physical distancing.
Myth #4: My child tested positive for COVID-19. I should continue to let them attend practice and games until the health department calls to let me know what to do next.

Truth: You should not wait for a call from the health department to isolate your child. Reach out to your coaching staff and begin contacting the individuals you have had close contact with and encourage them to begin quarantining. With the quick spread of COVID-19, the large number of cases, there may be a delay in contact by the health department.  You can preemptively take these steps to help reduce the spread.   

Myth #5: COVID-19 does not affect young or healthy people. It only affects those who are already very ill or older.

Truth: COVID-19 can affect anyone in unpredictable ways regardless of age or health. A large majority of Missourians have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, and serious heart conditions. There are also increased risk for those who smoke, have asthma, are pregnant, or have high blood pressure. As you can imagine, many in our communities have one or more of these underlying conditions or risk factors. COVID-19 can affect even young and healthy people.  

Myth #6: The City of Springfield masking ordinance has an exception for kids under 12 and while playing sports, so my kid doesn’t have to wear a mask.

Truth: Everyone over 3 is encouraged to wear a mask whenever possible, even while playing sports. If your child is exerting themselves to the point where it is difficult to breathe with a mask on, they should remove it. 

 

COVID-19 Toolkit for Organized Sports and Youth Activities Individual Sections:

  • Guidance for General Sports and Physical Activities: Recommendations and strategies coaches and staff can implement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within and among sports teams.
  • What To Do When a Participant Tests Positive: Guidance for what to do when an individual within a sports team tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Guidance for Sporting facilities: Recommendations and strategies coaches and staff can implement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a facility where sporting events take place.
  • What To Do When There is an Exposure Within a Facility: Guidance for what to do when a individual, coach, parent, or spectator tests positive for COVID-19 within a facility where sports take place.
  • Guidance for Other Organized Activities: Recommendations and strategies individuals can implement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a group setting.
  • Risk Assessment Chart: A chart for any parent or guardian to help as they consider all risks associated with their child's activity
  • Screening Log for Practices and Games: A log to ensure that participants and coaches are completing a symptom and temperature screening daily.
  • Close Contact List: If an individual associated with a sports team or activity tests positive for COVID-19, this tool will assist leaders in recording and contacting individuals who should begin self-quarantining. This information will also need to be provided to the Health Department.
  • Exposure Notification Templates: Notifying other participants or employees of a possible exposure can be challenging. These templates can be used to make those notifications, provide information, and help avoid miscommunication.
  • Tips for Parents and Guardians: Recommendations for parents and guardians to help reduce risks when their child is participating in sports and activities.
  • Definitions: Close Contact, Quarantine and Isolation defined.
  • Myths about COVID-19 :Myths based on scenarios we frequently receive from organizations and sporting teams.
  • Printables for display: We have included a variety of signs that can be displayed in and around sporting practices and facilities to remind individuals, teams, coaches, parents, and spectators of the precautions they should take to protect themselves and others.