Protocols to Safely Reintroduce Youth Sports

The National Academy of Athletics has created new protocols to safely reintroduce youth sports with preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The NAofA is continually monitoring and following the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Along with abiding by state and local regulations, the CDC regards that, “Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.”

They have published both guiding principles for youth camps and also guiding principles for youth sports. Applying a blend of these recommended protocols will result in programs that function with the lowest risk of infection possible.

Safety protocols COVID-19

For playing sports, the lowest risk activity would be offering alternative methods that kids can utilize at their own homes. For instance, these methods could be pre-recorded virtual sports camps or live virtual training sessions. The National Academy of Athletics has signed on 27 new Community Partners from all over the country to provide their Virtual Sports Camps. In addition, once authorized by state and local authorities, it’s also possible to carry out traditional youth sports camps in a low risk manner.

YOUTH SPORT CAMPS SET-UP

The first step should be to prearrange the registration and venue format. Camps should only include local participants. In effect, the program will have less chance of cross-contamination with people in areas that have been acting with different guidelines. When determining the best location, camp hosts should prioritize outdoor venues. If it is unavoidable, indoor venues can be made safer by maximizing the ventilation of the space with outside air. A study done by the American Society for Microbiology discussed Built Environment Considerations To Reduce Transmission. In this article they stated, “Administrators and building operators should discuss a plan for increasing perimeter, and specifically window, ventilation.”

PROTOCOLS PERSON TO PERSON

In addition, there are procedures to enforce when camps are in session. The CDC found that COVID-19 spreads easiest from person to person. This means that camps should limit the amount of people present, like prohibiting spectators and non-essential visitors. When organizing participants, staff should identify small groups that never intersect with other ones. Even within their own groups, there should be a six-foot distance between everyone at all times. This includes during check-in, check-out, water and bathroom breaks. Sporting activities can be modified to accommodate social distancing by playing games and drills that emphasize individual skill building.

PROTOCOLS OBJECT TO PERSON

Although the virus spreads most sustainably from one person to another, it is possible for infection to occur from touching shared objects or surfaces. To limit these occurrences, campers’ belongings should be separated. There should also be an adequate amount of supplies to minimize sharing. Another practice is to not allow participants to bring anything from home. The National Academy of Athletics will be supplying all sporting equipment for campers to control this variable. The staff at the NAofA will bring all the gear to and from camp each day to avoid the objects being brought in and out of potentially threatening environments.

NAofA volleyball girl

GENERAL SAFETY MEASURES

There are behaviors that organizations can require to help reduce the risk of both kinds of potential spreading- person to person, and object to person. Staff should be trained on all protocols and anyone should stay home when appropriate. Additionally, the CDC asserted, “Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.” There are key times throughout a youth sports camp that hand washing is essential. Next, when feasible, face coverings should be worn to protect others in case the mask wearer is unknowingly infected. Lastly, the Environmental Protection Agency released a resource on Guidance For Cleaning and Disinfecting. Businesses can follow the steps within that document to ensure they are meeting the standards for sanitizing susceptible areas of infection.

The National Academy of Athletics’ number one commitment is the safety and enjoyment of the children attending their organized activities. The NAofA is closely following these procedures in order to protect campers, staff, and the community.