- Dale Duff Reporting ([email protected])
Maine state agencies are now recommending to the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) that the high school fall sports season be delayed. The state has issues with the MPA’s plan approved last week and wants to resolve some issues.
The state also put out updated guidelines for ‘Community Sports’ and under those guidelines football and indoor volleyball would not be allowed to play games vs others schools, only intra-squad games.
In a letter from the Maine DHHS and Education, officials say in part, “We would like to know, at your earliest convenience, if the MPA plans on modifying its guidance and, if so, how? Additionally, given that it is September 1, we urge you to consider extending your delayed start date for fall sports as many other interscholastic sports bodies in other states have done to allow for sufficient time to resolve the concerns expressed in this letter and to allow for appropriate time for implementation.”
The MPA has yet to respond to the state’s letter.
NOTE: Here are the updated state guidelines for “Community Sports’ released Tuesday afternoon….
COVID19 Prevention Checklist Industry Guidance
Last updated: Sep 1, 2020
The State of Maine has adopted a staged approach, supported by science, public health expertise, and industry collaboration, to allow Maine organizations to safely open when the time is right. The plan is available at www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine.
This is one of many guidance documents the State is preparing for organizations so they can be prepared to meet health guidelines and reopen safely. Please make sure you pair this document with the general guidance document that applies to all sectors, which is available on maine.gov/decd.
Please note: This document may be updated as additional information and resources become available.
Phase 2: Community Sports
General Guidance for Community Sports Activities (Updated 9/1/20)
Community sports activities for both youth and adults require careful consideration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts recognize the role of outdoor recreation and exercise in promoting mental health, physical fitness, and cognitive development. Reducing exposure to respiratory droplets through physical distancing and face coverings, as well as increased hand hygiene and avoidance of shared and common touch items, remain the primary tools to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Because of the increased possibility of infection through droplets, vigorous exercise in closely confined spaces should be avoided.
At this time, outdoor training with physical distancing may be prudent. These guidelines focus on maximizing opportunities for physical distancing and keeping small, stable cohorts of participants whenever possible. This guidance includes best practices recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aspen Institute, and guidance documents from several states.
Students attending school and students participating in any group sporting activity (club, community or school-based) represent the mixing of cohorts that schools are attempting to use for their public health protection measures. This increased mixing creates a high risk for potential spread both within schools and between schools and therefore this guidance must be diligently followed.
Sports activities present multiple challenges in the effective use of primary prevention strategies. These challenges include:
- Risk of exposure to the virus due to close physical proximity during sports activities through participation in the sport activity itself, group seating, and group travel.
- Increased risk during intense and sustained physical contact whether purposeful or accidental.
- Increased projection of respiratory particles during cardiovascular activities, yelling or shouting as part of play, or common sneezing or coughing. This increase in projection of droplets can be up to 14 feet, well exceeding the typical physical distancing recommendation of 6 feet between individuals.
- While face coverings are recommended to reduce the risk of viral transmission between individuals, face coverings may not be compatible with some activities. Face coverings are not currently required for players during vigorous exercise during practice or competition. Face coverings should be used when not engaged in vigorous exercise (e.g. during low to moderate intensity exercise, during coaching strategy sessions, in bench area).
Framework for Assessing the Risk of Sports and Recreation Activities (Updated 9/1/20)
The risk of participating in sports and recreation activities is determined by a combination of (1) risk of transmission of COVID-19 inherent to each sport in terms of duration and proximity of contact (e.g. golf versus rugby) and (2) risk associated with the type of play (e.g. skill-building drills, within-team competition, competition between teams from different geographic areas).
Type of Play
The following types of play are defined by level from least to greatest risk. Across all types of play, keep players together in small, stable groups (i.e. cohorts) with dedicated coaches or staff. Ideally, these cohorts should include fewer than 30 individuals.
- Level 1: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with household members
- Level 2: Team-based practice with physically distanced group activities
- Level 3: Within-team competition (e.g. intra-squad scrimmages). This level of play involves one cohort of participants.
- Level 4: Competition between teams from the same geographic area (e.g. the same county and in some cases adjacent counties). This level of play involves two cohorts of participants.
- Level 5: Competition between teams from different geographic areas within Maine
- Level 6: Competition between teams from different states
Note: Individuals traveling or returning to Maine must follow the executive order on travel and rules explained in the Keep Maine Healthy plan. This includes a requirement that all out-of-state travelers coming into Maine, as well as Maine residents returning to Maine, complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival or have a negative COVID-19 PCR test no longer than 72 hours of arrival with uarantine while waiting for the result (unless that travel is to or from an exempted state). Check the website of the Maine Centers for Disease Control for updated information on exemptions to this requirement. Please note that competition between teams from different states is not recommended at this time.
Type of play allowed, based on risk level of sport or activity
At this time, sports are restricted to the types of play presented in the table below based on the level of risk associated with the sport or activity. During all activities, the public health measures in this guidance must be followed (e.g., hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting, face coverings, etc.) These recommendations will be updated as conditions change. Moreover, if transmission rates increase the county where sports teams have planned competitions, these intra-team activities should be cancelled.
|Risk level characteristics||Examples||Levels of Play Allowed|
||Examples: Batting cages, tennis, pickleball, individual swimming, catch, disc golf, golf, individual biking, surfing, horseback riding, crew/sailing, fishing, hunting, motor sports, gymnastics, weightlifting, single sculling, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus, hammer), jumping events (high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump), skiing, cross country events where physical distance can be maintained||Levels 1-5
(indoor or outdoor)
||Examples: Baseball, softball, team swimming, fencing, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, ice hockey, competitive cheer, martial arts, ultimate frisbee, running events where physical distance cannot be maintained, field hockey, pair figure skating, volleyball||Levels 1-3
(indoor or outdoor)
||Examples: Football, wrestling, rugby, boxing||Levels 1-3
(indoor or outdoor)
- Vulnerable or high-risk populations require special consideration for sporting activities.
- Individuals should discuss the risk of COVID-19 with their primary care provider to determine if sports activities are a safe option for them or their child, with consideration for individuals at higher risk with whom they or a member of their household group may be living or interacting with. (Updated 9/1/20)
- The following populations are at higher risk. Higher risk should be considered in regard to participation in sporting activities as a player or a coach (and in some settings, as a spectator):
- People 65 or older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled including:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised: Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
- People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- People with liver disease
- Consider offering options for individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as virtual coaching and in-home drills that limit their exposure risk.
- Organizers of community sports activities are responsible for limiting the number of individuals that can gather in a shared space, in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order on gathering size limits, currently set at 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, or fewer if distancing rules cannot be accommodated. (Updated 9/1/20)
- Players, coaches, volunteers, and spectators count toward the gathering limit.
- If a space cannot accommodate the gathering limit without complying with the six-foot distancing requirement, occupancy in that space must be limited to allow for such compliance.
- Require individuals to wear a face covering when physical distancing is difficult to maintain, per CDC recommendations and pertinent Executive Orders from the Office of the Governor.
- Face coverings are not currently required for players during vigorous activity during practice or competition, although athletes may wear face coverings during vigorous activity if they chose to do so. Face coverings should be used when not engaged in vigorous activity (e.g. during low to moderate intensity exercise, during coaching strategy sessions, in bench area). (Updated 9/1/20)
- Unless the governing body for your sport has a specific recommendation regarding plastic face shields, do not wear them in place of a face covering given potential safety risks.
- Face coverings should be worn by coaches, staff, officials, and spectators as much as possible.
- To facilitate the use of a face covering, coaches and officials should consider using an artificial noisemaker such as an air horn in place of a whistle.
- Require individuals to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from individuals who are not part of their household group whenever possible.
- Organizers should identify staff members or volunteers to help maintain physical distancing among players, coaches, umpires/referees, and spectators.
- Space players at least 6 feet apart whenever possible (e.g., during warmup, skill building activities, simulation drills, when explaining drills or the rules of the game).
- Spectators must maintain 6 feet of physical distance between themselves and other spectators as well as players.
- Discourage unnecessary physical contact, such as high fives, handshakes, fist bumps, or hugs.
Communicating COVID-19 Policies
- Inform participants and spectators of your COVID-19 policies and procedures in advance, if possible, via website, newsletters, social media channels, etc.
- Coaches are encouraged to send a welcome email or call players and/or parents to inform them about actions that the program will take to protect players. During these calls, coaches should remind them to stay home if they are sick or have been around someone who is sick.
- Place signage at entrances and throughout the venue alerting individuals to required gathering limits, physical distancing requirements, face covering policies, symptoms of COVID-19, and other health and hygiene reminders. The federal CDC has developed free, printable posters on these topics (see: Print Resources; For communications resources specific to sporting activities see: Considerations for Youth Sports).
- It is strongly recommended that program organizers and coaches remind players, spectators, and staff that if they are ill (e.g. have a fever or cough) they should not visit, train, or play. Signage reminding individuals of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 is highly recommended.
- Consider using announcements and/or recorded messages to communicate COVID-19 policies to individuals during their time at the venue, if applicable.
- Risk of virus transmission decreases in outside environments. Indoor sports activities significantly increase exposure to respiratory droplets in the shared air space. Prioritize outdoor, as opposed to indoor, practice and play as much as possible. Vigorous exercise amongst team members from different households in closely confined spaces should be avoided, even if masked and physically distanced.
- Provide training to coaches, officials, and staff on:
- hand hygiene
- physical distancing guidelines and expectations
- monitoring personal health
- proper wear, removal, and disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- laundering of face coverings and uniforms: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, How to Disinfect: Laundry (CDC)
- cleaning protocols, including how to safely and effectively use cleaning supplies: Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (CDC)
- Conduct training virtually or ensure that physical distancing is maintained during training.
- Youth activities require adult supervision to ensure careful attention to mitigation strategies.
- Coaches, volunteers, and athletes must stay home if they are feeling ill or have any symptoms of COVID-19. Organizers/coaches should ask all staff and players (or guardians of players, if appropriate) to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to practice or competition using either of the following approaches:
- Use an electronic or app-based self-screening form, such as the Coronavirus Self-Checker available on the federal CDC’s homepage.
- Self-screen using the following questions:
- Do you feel ill or have you been caring for someone who is ill?
- In the past two weeks, have you been exposed to anyone who tested positive for COVID-19?
- Promote frequent handwashing or hand sanitizing with all participants engaged in sports activities. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizers with a minimum of 60% alcohol content. Handwashing and/or sanitizing should occur before and after the sport activities, and more often if the activity involves the use of shared objects.
- Providing a method to rinse hands before applying hand sanitizer is recommended for situations where participants may become dirty or dusty.
- Encourage visitors to be prepared to bring their own hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for use in facilities where soap and water are not readily available.
- Educate players about covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow. Discourage spitting.
- For contact tracing purposes, to the extent practicable, organizers should maintain a record including contact information for athletes and coaches who have direct prolonged interaction.
- Based on current knowledge, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. Close contacts should stay home, maintain physical distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from the last date of exposure.
- Encourage players to wait in their cars until just before the beginning of a practice, warm-up, or game, instead of forming a group.
- If practice or competition facilities must be shared, consider increasing the amount of time between practices and competitions to allow for one group to leave before another group enters the facility/venue. This will minimize interaction between individuals at points of ingress and egress and allow time for cleaning and disinfecting.
- Avoid activities and events such as off-site competitions or excursions (e.g., watching a professional team compete).
- Limit the number of players sitting in confined player seating areas (e.g., dugouts). Ensure 6 feet of physical distance by allowing players to spread out into spectator areas if more space is available.
- Provide physical guides, such as signs and tape on floors or playing fields, to make sure that coaches and players remain at least 6 feet apart.
- Indoor sports activities significantly increase exposure to respiratory droplets in the shared air space. If indoor facilities are used, take steps to improve ventilation in the building.
- Increase the percentage of outdoor air (e.g., using economizer modes of HVAC operations) potentially as high as 100% (first verify compatibility with HVAC system capabilities for both temperature and humidity control as well as compatibility with outdoor/indoor air quality considerations).
- Increase total airflow supply to occupied spaces, if possible.
- Disable demand-control ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on temperature or occupancy.
- Consider using natural ventilation (i.e., opening windows if possible and safe to do so) to increase outdoor air dilution of indoor air when environmental conditions and building requirements allow.
- Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, drinking fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of disease. Further guidance is available from the CDC (see: Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation).
- Consider restricting the use of water fountains to water bottle refill only with instruction for individuals to wash or sanitize hands after use.
- Require any organizations that share or use the sports facilities to follow the considerations in this guidance.
Cleaning and Disinfection
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on the field, court, or play surface at least daily, or between uses as much as possible. Use of shared objects and equipment (e.g., balls, bats, gymnastics equipment) should be limited and objects should be cleaned between uses if possible.
- Identify a staff member or volunteer to ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of objects and equipment, particularly for any shared equipment or frequently touched surfaces.
- Cleaning products should not be used near children, and staff should ensure that there is adequate ventilation when using these products to prevent children or themselves from inhaling toxic fumes.
- Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
- Refer to the following documents for guidance on general cleaning and disinfection:
- Participants should bring and use their own equipment when possible, or have equipment designated and labeled for individual use by the organization.
- Discourage sharing of items, especially those that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect. Do not let players share towels, clothing (e.g. uniforms, pinnies), or other items they use to wipe their faces or hands.
- Make sure there are adequate supplies of shared items to minimize sharing of equipment to the extent possible (e.g., protective gear, balls, bats, water bottles); otherwise, limit use of supplies and equipment to one group of players at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
- Keep each player’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, bags, or areas.
- If food is offered at any event, have pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee instead of a buffet or family-style meal. Avoid sharing food and utensils.
- Water bottles should be labeled to avoid cross-contamination.
Cohorting Players and Coaches
- Keep players together in small, stable groups with dedicated coaches or staff, and make sure that each group of players and coach 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.
- Transportation to and from sports activities require attention because of increased risk of close proximity and poor ventilation.
- Limit the use of carpools or van pools. When riding in a vehicle to a sports event, encourage players to ride with persons living in their same household. Carpooling with individuals from different households is not recommended.
- If carpooling with individuals outside one’s household group is necessary, increase ventilation in the vehicle, and all riders must wear a facial covering, and use hand sanitizer.
- If buses are used, spread individuals out to the extent possible, increase the airflow with open windows if weather permits, require use of face coverings, and provide hand sanitizer for use when entering and exiting the bus.
Swimming pools and other aquatic activities
- Pools must continue to follow Governor’s current Executive Order regarding gathering size.
- Face coverings should not be worn in the pool.
- Physical distancing must be maintained to the extent possible in the pool, on the pool deck, in diving board areas, and seating areas.
- Free/open swim times are not recommended for indoor pools at this time.
- Organized swimming programs must develop a plan to ensure physical distancing in the pool and on the pool deck and monitor adherence to the physical distancing plan.
- No more than three swimmers should be in a swim lane at a time.
- Consider strategies like having swimmers swim the length of the pool and exiting at the other end to minimize swimmers passing each other in the water.
- Keep swimming pools properly cleaned and disinfected. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (with chlorine or bromine) of swimming pools should kill the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Common touch surfaces such as hand rails, ladders, and diving platforms, should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
- Swimming pool directors must plan for cleaning and disinfection of items that are typically shared between individuals.
- Evaluate locker/personal storage arrangements. Close or rotate sections to allow for appropriate physical distancing. Consider positioning an employee in the locker/storage area to limit the number of people in the space at one time. Clean and disinfect locker areas frequently.
- Swimming in the ocean, lakes and ponds is allowed. Physical distancing must be maintained on any beach areas.
Organized Racing Events
Group racing events are not recommended at this time. Commonly these events are known as: “road race”, “5k” (3.1 miles), “10k” (6.2 miles), “half marathon” (13.1 miles), “marathon” (26.2 miles), “walk”, and “century or half-century” (100 or 50 miles). Further guidance for safe practice of such events is forthcoming. (Updated 9/1/20)