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Youth Sports Guidelines

 

These guidelines, effective September 11, 2020, supersede and replace the August 7, 2020, Youth Sports Guidelines. In accordance with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health’s (“DPH”) Third Amended Order for Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening, dated July 29, 2020, effective July 31, 2020, (the “Order”) and as may be further amended, these guidelines may be replaced or modified by DPH based on new scientific information and local information including the trajectory of influenza-like illnesses, cases of COVID-19, and any other information deemed relevant to protect public health in St. Louis County.

 

1. Guiding principles

Children playing sports with or against other individuals during this time holds an inherent risk that someone with whom they are playing is infected, that they may then become infected and, in turn, spread the virus to others in their household or community. Please consider this risk when allowing your child(ren) to participate in organized sports.

The information regarding SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 illness, is changing rapidly. As a result, guidance given nationally and in St. Louis County is subject to change. The guidelines provided in this document will be reviewed and updated based on new scientific information and local circumstances, and, therefore, may change periodically.

Recognizing that the spread of the virus in the community continues to be high, while at the same time understanding that the risk of transmission during youth sports practices that follow restrictions can be lessened, these guidelines allow team practices, as well as, in some instances, competitions depending upon the frequency of contact inherent to the particular sport. With high-frequency of contact sports only practices, with restrictions, are allowed. Because the evidence continues to show that the congregation of groups of people where there is frequent person-to person interaction spreads the virus, spectators are limited or not allowed.

St. Louis County continues to balance the importance of activity for children with the reality of increased community spread of COVID-19 in St. Louis County.

The risks associated with playing sports with or against other individuals depends on the type of play, the number of individuals participating, and the number of spectators present. For further information, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on youth sports.

2. Types of Activities

The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in youth sports settings as follows:

  • Lowest risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family members
  • Increasing risk: Team-based practice
  • More risk: Within-team competition
  • Even more risk: Full competition between teams from the same local geographic area
  • Highest risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas.

3. Types of Sports

Sports are classified based on the level of contact between players, as low-frequency of contact, moderate-frequency of contact or high-frequency of contact.

  • High-frequency of contact sports include basketball, boxing, ice hockey tackle/flag/touch football, martial arts, rugby, water polo, and wrestling.
  • Moderate-frequency of contact sports include baseball, cheerleading, crew/rowing, dance team, fencing, floor hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, racquetball, soccer, softball, team handball, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball.
  • Low-frequency of contact sports include diving, extreme sports, gymnastics, rodeo, water skiing, adventure racing, bicycling, canoeing/kayaking, field events (high jump, pole vault, javelin, shot-put), golf, handball, horseback riding, skating (ice, in-line, roller), skateboarding, weight lifting, windsurfing, badminton, bodybuilding, bowling, orienteering, fishing, riflery, rope jumping, running, sailing, scuba diving, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and track.

For sports or activities not included in the above categories that are similar in nature to such other sports or activities, please apply the category most closely associated with the sport or activity. If there is any question regarding the categorization of an activity, please contact the Department of Public Health to determine which category applies.

4. Application

The restrictions and requirements of these Youth Sports Guidelines apply to all individuals age 18 or younger.

The restrictions and requirements of these Youth Sports Guidelines apply to school sponsored and affiliated sports teams and leagues as well as non-school sponsored and affiliated sports teams.

5. Restrictions and Requirements

When allowed, competitions shall be limited to the St. Louis Area Region. For purposes of these guidelines, “St. Louis Area Region” is defined as the Metro East (Madison and St. Clair Counties of Illinois), St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County and Franklin County.

  1. Effective September 11, 2020, the following restrictions and requirements apply to all High-frequency of contact sports:
  • Team workouts and practices are allowed with restrictions.
  • Practices and team contact drills are allowed but only in groups of 30 athletes or fewer.
  • Intra-squad scrimmages (within the team (not to exceed 30 athletes) that practice together) are allowed.
  • Two coaches are permitted in addition to the group of 30 or fewer athletes.
  • Each group of athletes, not to exceed 30 per group, must remain in a separate single space from another group of athletes at any one time. Any single space must have a minimum of a 20-foot barrier from any other single space. No person is allowed within that 20-foot barrier. The 20-foot barrier should be clearly marked, and such demarcation shall be indicated by a wall, tape or cones.
  • NO games are permitted.
  • NO tournaments, performances, competitions, or showcases are permitted.
  • Social distancing should be maintained as much as possible during practice.
  • The practice groups must remain the same every day to reduce the amount of exposure for each child.
  • Masks/face coverings MUST be worn anytime an individual is not doing vigorous physical activity.
  • Coaches MUST remain in mask/face coverings at all times.
  • Players and coaches should sanitize hands and equipment regularly.
  • Wearing masks before, during and immediately following activities is required, including prior to screening, except as specifically excluded during the individual athlete’s engagement in vigorous physical activity.
  • Every individual, including coaches, must be screened every day that an individual participates in youth sports.
  • NO spectators are allowed – including parents or guardians.
  • No two teams should be in the same location at one time. If the same field, gym, or enclosed room will be used on the same day by more than one team, teams must allow sufficient time between sessions to clean the area. No team shall use a field, gym, or similar enclosed room on the same day another team has used any of those locations unless proper cleaning has occurred after the previous team’s use and prior to the next team’s use. This cleaning requirement shall also apply to groups of up to 30 athletes using the same single space as another group of up to 30 athletes even if those groups comprise one team.
  • All equipment (such as bats, sticks, helmets, sleds, etc.) must be disinfected between individual uses.
  1. Effective September 11, 2020, the following restrictions and requirements apply to all Moderate-frequency of contact sports:

For players younger than 14 years of age or in middle school:

  • Full team practices are allowed, with no limit on the number of participants, but a limit of 2 coaches.
  • Games and competitions with other teams from the St. Louis Area Region are allowed.
  • NO tournament style competitions are allowed, such as bracket style play where multiple teams play back to back.
  • LIMITED spectators are allowed - one person per athlete (including parents and guardians) is allowed to attend if the athlete needs transportation to the game, as long as those spectators comply with all requirements for facial coverings and social distancing.

For players 14 years of age and older if they are in high school OR players 14-18 years of age who are not in high school

  • Team workouts and practices are allowed with restrictions.
  • Full team practices are allowed, with no limit on the number of participants, but a limit of 2 coaches for teams of 20 or less, and a limit of 3 coaches for teams of greater than 20 players.
  • Intra-squad scrimmages are allowed.
  • NO games are permitted.
  • NO tournaments, performances, competitions, or showcases are permitted.
  • NO spectators are allowed, including parents or guardians.
  • NO chanting or stunting is allowed for cheerleaders.

For all players:

  • Social distancing should be maintained as much as possible during practice and games.
  • Masks/face coverings MUST be worn anytime an individual is not engaging in vigorous physical activity.
  • Coaches and officials MUST wear mask/face coverings at all times.
  • Players and coaches should sanitize their hands and equipment regularly.
  • Wearing masks before, during and immediately following activities is required, including prior to screening, except as specifically excluded during the individual athlete’s engagement in vigorous physical activity.
  • Every individual, including coaches, MUST be screened every day that such individual participates in youth sports.
  • All equipment (such as bats, sticks, helmets, sleds, etc.) must be disinfected between individual uses.
  1. Effective September 11, 2020, the following restrictions and requirements apply to all Low-frequency of contact sports:
  • Full team practices are permitted with restrictions.
  • Competitions are allowed with other teams or individuals within the Region.
  • NO tournament style competitions, such as bracket style play where multiple teams play back-to-back, including without limitation, showcases, shall be allowed.
  • LIMITED spectators are allowed - one person per athlete (including parents or guardians)  is allowed to attend if the athlete needs transportation to the game, as long as those spectators comply with all requirements for facial coverings and social distancing.
  • Social distancing MUST be maintained as much as possible during practice and games.
  • Masks/face coverings MUST be worn anytime an individual is not engaged in vigorous physical activity.
  • Coaches and officials MUST wear mask/face coverings at all times.
  • Players and coaches MUST sanitize their hands and equipment regularly.
  • Wearing masks before, during and immediately following activities is required, including prior to screening, except as specifically excluded during the individual athlete’s engagement in vigorous physical activity.
  • Every individual, including coaches, MUST be screened every day that an individual participates in youth sports.
  • All equipment (such as bats, sticks, helmets, sleds, etc.)  MUST be disinfected between individual uses.

6. All permitted activities are subject to and conditioned upon compliance with the following safety measures:

  • Athletes, coaches, and officials shall MUST undergo a standardized health screening and temperature check on a daily basis prior to engaging in any sports activity allowed by these guidelines.
  • Spectators, including parents and guardians, are only allowed in limited numbers and circumstances as defined by the level of contact for the sport, as well as the age of the participant.  All spectators MUST wear a face covering at all times and maintain social distance.
  • Players MUST wear a face covering, including during practices and while training when not actively engaged in vigorous physical activity, including vigorous practice activity or vigorous training activity.
  • Coaches and officials MUST wear a face covering at all times.
  • Screening times and practice start times MUST be spaced out to limit the number of athletes and others in the area.
  • The number of players sitting in confined areas (e.g., dugouts) MUST be limited to allow for social distancing.
  • Hand hygiene is essential. Organizations and facilities MUST promote frequent and effective hand hygiene by supplying ample hand sanitizer dispensers and hand-washing stations.
  • The use of locker rooms is not recommended. If they must be used, social distancing and mask requirements apply at all times while present within the locker room. Cleaning is required and equipment must be stored in a designated area.
  • To the extent people are present, including spectators, their identity and contact information should be known for contact tracing purposes.
  • Congregating MUST NOT be allowed by parents, guardians, and any other individuals who are spectators or would otherwise be spectators and are responsible for the transportation of the athletes. This includes at the fields or outside of their individual modes of transportation.
  • A drop-off and pick-up line for practices is recommended to avoid unnecessary exposure.
  • Water bottles MUST not be shared. An individual athlete may use his or her own water bottle, which should be clearly marked with his or her name. Cups used for water should be for single-use and disposable.
  • Coolers must be properly sanitized after each use, and each team or group shall have its own cooler.
  • CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting coolers, equipment, locker rooms and all other items and/or areas referenced in these guidelines MUST be followed.
  • Whirlpools or cold/hot tubs should be avoided. If they are required for use in an emergency, follow best practices. Have a cold-water immersion tub on-site or within 5 minutes of the field.
  • If ice towels are available, CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting MUST be followed. Ice towels shall be used only once, then discarded or washed properly.
  • Team huddles, handshakes, fist bumps, and other unnecessary physical contact are not allowed.
  • Any shared equipment MUST be disinfected with EPA certified products. Equipment should be disinfected, if possible, after each use, or after each inning or play period.
  • Any jerseys used during these workouts MUST be washed daily and not shared among players.

7. Screening

Every coach, athlete or official MUST be screened on a daily basis before they enter the field, campus or facility where the sporting activity is designated to occur. They must wear a face mask for the duration of the health screening unless masking is not possible due to a medical condition.

A consistent person should be designated to provide healthcare screenings. This person must wear a face mask and gloves when screening others.

The screening process is as follows:

  • Ask each individual if they have experienced any of the following new or worsening symptoms within the past 24 hours:
    • Fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit)
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
    • Sore throat, different than your seasonal allergies
    • Loss of smell and/or taste
    • Diarrhea or vomiting
    • Abdominal pain
  • Ask if they have a close contact who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks.

Positive Screening – If an athlete, coach, or official answers “yes” to any of the screening questions, he or she should stay home and in any event, MUST not enter the field, campus or facility where the sporting activity is designated to occur and will be sent home immediately and told to notify his or her health care provider. If the athlete’s parents, guardians, or other transportation provider are not present, the athlete must be escorted to a designated isolation room or an area away from others, and the athlete MUST wear a mask or face covering at all times.

Individuals who have had a significant exposure (defined as direct contact or prolonged exposure within 6 feet) to a positive COVID-19 individual MUST quarantine for a minimum of 14 days from the last date of exposure to the positive COVID-19 individual. If the exposed individual has a negative SARS-Cov 2 test, they still must quarantine for 14 days. If the exposed individual develops symptoms during these 14 days, testing for SARS Cov-2 should occur.

The school, coach, or other official, as applicable, is required to contact the St. Louis County Department of Public Health to notify the Department of the positive screening. The notifying individual must provide information regarding all known contacts of the positive-screened individual. To aid in this contact tracing, all schools, coaches, and other officials conducting the practice or competition must keep a detailed account of all the participants at each practice or competition.

If the individual has health-related questions, the individual must consult with the individual’s own health care provider.

Individuals returning to sports after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis MUST consult with both their own health care provider and the Department of Public Health of the county in which they reside. Only the St. Louis County Department of Public Health can release a St. Louis County resident from quarantine or isolation.

8. Special considerations for those with health conditions

Certain individual athletes on a team may be at higher risk for severe illness than other athletes, such as athletes who have asthma, diabetes, or other health problems. Those individuals with underlying conditions may be more likely to have severe COVID-19 illness. Parents, guardians, and coaches should give special consideration to protecting these athletes.

Athletes, coaches, parents, and guardians should consider delaying the athlete’s participation in sports and athletic activities if the athlete has any of the following conditions:

  • Chronic lung disease, including moderate or severe asthma,
  • Type 2 diabetes,
  • Chronic kidney disease,
  • Sickle Cell disease,
  • Serious Heart or Cardiovascular conditions (such as coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, pulmonary hypertension; or
  • Immunocompromised (e.g., any transplant recipient needing immunosuppressant medications – steroids, biologics, etc., and patients receiving chemotherapy) – if you think your child is immunocompromised, please check with your child’s healthcare provider.

Parents or guardians who have children with these risk factors should consider consulting with their children’s healthcare provider about their children’s participation in sports since limited data exist and, in many cases (well-controlled diabetic or asthmatic) an increased risk is likely not present. Coaches should exercise caution in attending youth sport activities if they have any of the above-identified conditions.

9. Enforcement

Organizations, teams, and coaches must understand the importance of enforcing these restrictions and requirements to enable children to continue to participate in sporting activities. Under DPH Orders, St. Louis County can require an organization or team to cease otherwise permitted activities if the restrictions and requirements are not being followed. In addition to the expectation that organizations, teams, and coaches will enforce the requirements set forth in these guidelines, all other enforcement actions, including Department of Public Health ordered closure, civil action, and criminal action, remain available to enforce these guidelines.

It is imperative that parents and guardians, as well as those who are organizing and coaching the children/athletes, emphasize the need to follow these guidelines in order to reduce community transmission of the virus and allow additional permitted activities in the future, including competitive play. This means that ancillary gatherings and meetings of parents and athletes should not be sanctioned or sponsored.

Organizations, teams, coaches, and parents MUST, in accordance with DPH Orders, cooperate and assist in contact tracing, including maintaining a list of players attending practices.

10. References