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Fall Youth Sports and Health Considerations

August 28, 2020 — The Maryland Sports Commission Return to Play Report categorizes sports into low, medium and high risk. It also describes the return to play based on the extent and pattern of COVID-19 transmission in the community. There are four Stages of Return to Play with Stage 1 being the most restrictive and Stage 4 being the most permissive. View Stages of Return to Play.

Anne Arundel County is currently in Stage 3 which is consistent with “CDC parameters of likelihood or confirmed exposures within communal settings with potential for increase in cases.” Currently the county is seeing 40-50 new cases per day, and the downward trend in cases from the first half of the month has plateaued. The county does not meet the criteria for the Stage 4 which specifies “CDC parameters of isolated cases and limited communal transmission and no evidence of exposure in large communal settings.”

Under Stage 3, medium risk sports can resume competition which includes soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, baseball and softball. These will go forward with minimal modifications for safety. High risk sports, football, wrestling and cheer, can only resume practice but not competition.

Modifications to football and cheer can decrease their risk thereby allowing these sports to move forward in this stage. For football, converting from tackle to flag would allow competition to move forward. For cheer, eliminating stunts would allow them to move forward.

The goal is to balance the benefits of sports with the harm from the spread of COVID-19. Given the pattern of spread in our county, this approach is consistent with state sports guidelines and decisions made by other counties. More importantly, it provides a good balance to allow youth to play sports while adjusting those activities to minimize the spread of COVID-19.


Sport in Maryland: Return to Play Report (Excerpt)

Stages of Return
i. Stage 1

  • Return to Sport in Maryland Stage I: Coincides with Maryland Roadmap to Recovery (MRTR) Phase I,
    Low Risks Activities and corresponds to CDC parameters of sustained transmission with high likelihood
    of confirmed exposure within communal settings with potential for rapid increase in suspected cases,
    Gating criteria have been satisfied for a minimum of 14 days.
  • Vulnerable individuals should still shelter in place.
  • During this phase, individual workouts are allowed to begin on campus or at the organization’s facility.
    However, groups should include no more than 10 individuals, including coaches, are recommended in a space. The space should be separated by a barrier or large enough distance that individuals can maximize social distancing and no players/coaches should be within 6 feet of each other. There should no interaction between groups of 10 during this phase. All machines or equipment should be wiped down with approved disinfectant after each use. Gathering limitations and cleaning to be enforced by school administration, not the athletic trainer.
  • General concept in all phases
    Get in, Get out and complete essential training only together
  • Athletes should not be interacting with anyone outside the area where their individual workout is located.
  • Moving to phase 2 is contingent upon meeting the gating criteria above in the region your organization resides for the previous two weeks, and no outbreak of cases within your school or organization.

ii. Stage 2

  • Coincides with MRTR Phase II, Medium Risks Activities and corresponds to CDC parameters of likelihood of transmission and likely confirmed exposures within communal settings and potential for rapid increase in cases
  • Vulnerable individuals should remain sheltered in place
  • LOW RISK SPORTS can begin full team practices and competitions in local area.
    Recommendations > Sports Risk continued
    Information last updated 6/5/2020
    Medical Subcommittee Full Report & Recommendations
    16 | Return to Play Committee: Youth & Amateur Sports Report
    Medical Section
  • During this phase, team workouts and practices are allowed to begin on campus or facility, however this should be done with minimal protective equipment (i.e. helmets only for football). Team drills can occur where players are less than 6 feet apart, but this should be minimized to brief one- on-one drills. Most of the practice should utilize social distancing. Gatherings of up to 50 people allowed unless precautionary measures of physical distancing and sanitization are in place.
  • No two teams should be in the same location at one time. If the same field or gym will be used backto back, allow ample time between sessions to clean area between teams. Half field use is permitted. Be sure that there is no interaction between teams.
  • Any equipment used should be disinfected between individual uses (i.e. helmets, bat, stick etc.).
  • Social distancing should apply as much as possible during these team workouts and practices.
  • Moving to phase 3 is contingent upon meeting the gating criteria above in the region your organization resides for the previous two weeks, and no outbreak within your school or organization

iii. Stage 3

  • Coincides with MRTR Mid to Late Phase II, MEDIUM RISKS ACTIVITIES and corresponds to CDC parameters of likelihood or confirmed exposures within communal settings with potential for increase in cases.
  • Vulnerable individuals can resume in-person activities.
  • During this phase medium risk sports may begin, full team practices, scrimmages, and game competitions. Any scrimmages or games should be played only against team located within the Baltimore Metropolitan region.
  • During this phase HIGH RISK SPORTS, team practices with full equipment and contact drills is permissible. (Football should be sure to acclimatize with half shells first and then full equipment during this phase, as recommended by Maryland State Department of Education Model Policy for Pre-Season Heat Acclimatization Guidelines for preseason athletes.
  • HIGH RISK SPORTS can begin Intra-squad Scrimmages during this phase.
  • During competitions, spectators should practice social distancing as permissible and spectators should wear masks/face coverings.
  • Individual equipment should be disinfected daily (bats, balls, sticks, etc.) Shared equipment between individual uses (i.e. sleds, weight equipment, etc.).
  • Moving to phase 4 is contingent upon meeting the gating criteria above in the region your organization resides for the previous two weeks, and no outbreak of cases at your school or organization.

iv. Stage 4 (High Risk Sports Only recommendations)

  • Coincides with MRTR Phase III, High Risks Activities and CDC parameters of isolated cases and limited communal transmission and no evidence of exposure in large communal settings.
  • During this phase, full team practices, scrimmages, and game competitions are permitted.
  • During competitions, spectators should practice social distancing as permissible and spectators should wear masks/face coverings. Number of spectators may be limited based on size of the facility and the promotion of social distancing by organizations and schools.

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