During last Friday’s clockwork briefing centered around the coronavirus, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) unveiled his “Healthy at Work” Team Kentucky plan for the reopening of youth sports in the Commonwealth — set to become effective on June 15, and eventually crowning into moderately public competition on June 29.
Enumerated in a 10-page document, the list of directions and guidelines has some highlights:
As of June 15, “low touch outdoor sports” (defined as track and field, biking, tennis, golf, mini-golf, horseback riding, cross-country, baseball, softball and teeball), “low touch indoor sports” (defined as gymnastics, swimming, diving, bowling, solo-dance/solo-ballet, tap-dance and archery, “high touch indoor youth sports” (defined as karate/martial arts, basketball, cheerleading, team dance, ice hockey, volleyball, fencing and wrestling) and “high touch outdoor sports” (e.g. football, soccer, lacros
- se, flag football, field hockey) can resume practices without competition.
- These practices can consist of no more than 10 individuals and one supervising adult per group, and multiple groups should be appropriately socially distanced.
- As of June 29, “low touch” indoor and outdoor sports can resume competitions, with up to (but no more than) 50 spectators, while “high touch” indoor and outdoor sports can resume more concentrated (but still socially distanced) team/group practices, but not competitions as of yet.
A thoroughly comprehensive 46-point social distancing rubric stressed common sense and a minimum of six feet of distance with warmups, practices and skills activities, but also included a list of acute details that coaches, officials and caretakers should follow, including:
- Discourage unnecessary physical contact (high fives, handshakes, fist bumps, hugs)
- Eliminate, to the greatest extent, touching of shared equipment
- Encourage parents and custodians to monitor own children
- Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers involving external groups and organizations
- Eliminate travel competitions and scrimmages outside of the local community
- Direct coaches/staff/families/athletes who have had close contact with persons diagnosed with COVID-19 to quarantine
- Prioritize outdoor practice as much as possible
- Wait in cars with parents/custodians just prior to practice, to avoid mingling
- Encourage athletes to ride with parents/custodians to events, to avoid carpooling
- Designate a youth sports director responsible for COVID-19 response
- Develop policy for return-to-play following COVID-19 or other related illnesses
- Create and post a cleaning and sanitizing plan specific to the youth sport activity
- Sanitize equipment and any other used items before, during and after every event
- Support healthy hygiene by providing soap, paper towels, tissues, no-touch/foot pedal trash cans, as well as 60% alcohol hand sanitizer if water is unavailable
Daily health checks for symptoms should be conducted for coaches, officials, staff and youth athletes “to the greatest extent practicable,” while league officials, coaches and other necessary parties — including players not actively participating — should “wear face coverings at all times, unless doing so would represent a serious risk to their health or safety.” (For example, athletes five years old, or under, should not wear masks due to increased risk of suffocation/strangulation).
Other rules of note? Post signage informing about good hygiene and new safety practices and protocols. Post signage disallowing the entry of those with “fever” or “symptoms of COVID-19.” Prohibit the congregation of athletes/spectators/families/coaches/officials prior to (or following) events. Ensure team meetings occur virtually or by phone. Prohibit the spitting of seeds, gum, tobacco and other similar products. And eliminate “lost-and-found” bins, as well as vending stations, saunas, steam rooms, water coolers and water fountains to the “greatest extent practicable.”
It’s worth noting that these guidelines did not include any schedule for the return of KHSAA-governed sports, which, pursuant to state statutes, “Common and private school facilities will receive additional compliance guidelines, restrictions and allowances from the Kentucky Department of Education through its designee, KHSAA, including requirements for facility use by school and non-school teams.”
Caldwell County had its first case of COVID-19 confirmed by April 1, eight confirmed cases as of April 12, and 12 confirmed cases as of May 26.
For full description of these guidelines, visit https://tinyurl.com/ycu588mb.