COVID sports safety considerations
Reintegration of sports in the Dayton region
(Updated 2/11/2021) Check back often for changes and additional resources.
guiding principles | special considerations for athletes and coaches | social considerations/assessments | screening | positive COVID-19 test result for athlete or coach | returning to sports post COVID-19 diagnosis | resources
Many sports organizations are asking how to play sports safely during the pandemic. Outside of state regulations, there are many factors to consider when making the decision to return to play. The following considerations are the result of a collaboration among pediatric professionals at Dayton Children’s.
Goal: Provide considerations for the reintegration of sport with regards to practice and competition, keeping in mind the health and safety of our youth and high school athletes, coaches/personnel, parents/caregivers and spectators.
Important, must read: Playing sports with and/or against other individuals, in any capacity during this time, holds an inherent risk of a child or teenager becoming infected and potentially infecting other individuals, such as members of their household. Please consider this risk when allowing your child/teenager to participate in organized sports.
Teams/clubs/organizers must be familiar with recommendations from their national, state and local governing bodies regarding illness (including, but not limited to, COVID-19). Resuming participation prior to these organizations’ recommendations may create increased liability if an athlete is injured at a time when participation in practices or competitions may not be recommended.
- Prioritize noncontact activity, such as conditioning and drills where physical distance can be maintained
- Proper use of a cloth face covering.
- Reinforce appropriate hygiene and respiratory etiquette through the use of signage, parent/athlete education, and use of handwashing stations or hand sanitizer.
- Maintain practice groups in consistent pods of small sizes that do not mix youth athletes
- Frequently touched surfaces on the field, court, or play surface (eg, drinking fountains) should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily or between uses as much as possible
- Practice or games times should be spaced out to decrease the number of individuals coming and going at the same time.
- The use of locker rooms is not recommended during this time. If they are used proper social distancing should apply within the locker room. (i.e. only every 3 lockers being used etc.)
- No unnecessary individuals should be present (managers, extra coaches, non-participating athletes, etc.)
- During competitions, spectators should practice social distancing, as permissible, and spectators should wear masks/face covering. While there is not a recommendation on the specific number of spectators, organizations and schools may want to put in limits based on other factors (i.e. gym size) to promote social distancing.
- Minimize travel to other communities and regions
For a full list of guiding principles, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics' COVID-19 Interim Guidance: Return to Sports.
Athletes and coaches who should consider delaying their participation in sports and activities are those with any of the following:
- Chronic Lung Disease including Asthma
- Severe obesity (Body Mass Index >40)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart conditions
- Immunocompromised (e.g. any transplant recipient, participants needing immunosuppressant medications, patients receiving chemotherapy, etc.)
- Coaches that are 65 years and older
If you think that your child is immunocompromised, please check with your child’s healthcare provider before returning them to sports.
Exceptions may be needed for some of these conditions based on circumstances.
- Showers may be needed after practice in some circumstances (eg. working after practice, homeless). Coaches and administrators can make these exceptions. Social distancing should be maximized and proper cleaning should occur.
- Water bottles that can be clearly marked for individuals should be made available. Cleaning should occur after an individual uses them.
- For parents/caregivers that rely on public transportation or walk, an area away from practice should be set aside that allows for social distancing.
- Schools and organizations should attempt to have extra masks/face coverings available. These should be washed after each use if cloth-based.
Additional situations may arise based on social vulnerabilities. Schools and organizations should attempt to think of these situations and develop solutions that continue to practice the key elements of preventing COVID-19 transmission.
Every coach, athlete, or official should be screened for possible covid-19 when they enter the campus or facility where the sporting activity will occur. Recommend all wear a mask/face covering until cleared by the screening process. Some may choose to continue wearing it after the screening.
- If an athletic trainer is employed at the organization or school, he or she is the ideal person to complete this screening.
- If no athletic trainer is employed or additional help is needed for screenings, then specific individuals, preferably medically trained, should be assigned to complete the screening.
- The screening should include the following questions: "Today or in the past 24 hours have you had any of the following symptoms?"-
- Fever (temperature greater than 100.4 for children and greater than 100 for adults)
- New or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Sore throat, different than your seasonal allergies
- New loss of smell and/or taste
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Do you have a household or close contact who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks?
- Temperature check with a thermometer is recommended, but not required (temperature greater than 100.4 for children and greater than 100 for adults is considered a fever)
a. Temperature assessment is much more important for screening adults
b. Forehead thermometer/touchless thermometer is preferable
- Positive screening-
- If an athlete/coach/official has positive finding on their COVID-19 participation screening, they should be sent home immediately.
- Participants without transportation should be escorted to a designated isolation room or area away from others. Have them wear a mask/face covering until they arrive at home
- Athletes, coaches, and officials who have positive findings on their screening should be directed to contact their pediatrician, family practice, or internal medicine clinician for evaluation and potential COVID-19 testing. Those without out a primary care clinician can be directed to a virtual COVID-19 screening visit.
- The athlete, coach or official should not be allowed back until they have documentation demonstrating the SARS-CoV-2 test was negative or a note from their healthcare provider indicating they do not need to be tested and their symptoms are not due to COVID-19.
- After the athlete/coach/official is screened they should receive an indicator that signifies that they have been screened (i.e. colored wrist band, sticker that changes daily, mark on hand) with the current date and initials of the screener. Athletes do not need to wear masks/face coverings during play.
1. Notify the local public health authority.
- The school nurse, athletic trainer, healthcare provider or member of the organization should create and provide a list of all close contacts and their contact information
- Notify participants that their contact may be shared with public health authorities in the event that they are exposed to a confirmed case during sports participation
- This list should be provided to the health department in the event someone tests positive for covid-19. Keeping this information will ensure timely and efficient contact tracing which is necessary to mitigate the spread of disease.
2. If an athlete or coach NOT wearing a mask is confirmed to have COVID-19, the following should occur:
- All participants that have practiced or competed with this individual up to 48 hours prior to symptom onset should be excluded from practice for 14 days. Recommend teams keep documentation of names and contact information of opposing teams/coaches/officials for contact tracing purposes.
- Participation exceptions could be made if all activities were done using appropriate social distancing
- Participation exceptions could be made if a coach is positive and was wearing a mask/face covering.
- In some cases, a mask/face covering may NOT be considered protective, depending on the type of exposure. Contact the local public health authority for clarification before resuming in-person participation
- If those in contact with the infected individual were properly wearing a face mask
- Under some circumstances, exceptions can be made which clear them to continue participating
- In some cases, a mask may not be protective. Contact local public health authority for clarification before resuming in-person practices
Athletes/coaches must meet all the following criteria to return to sports:
- No fever (>100.4) for 72 hours without fever-reducing medications
- Improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath,)
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
- Note for clearance from a medical provider. Individuals without a medical provider can contact their local public health agency.
Every athlete will react to the new sports return considerations differently, depending on why they play sports. Their motivation and interests may have changed with time off, as well. Please support your athlete to continue pursuing health and fitness, even if it means they change how they pursue it.
- Understanding Risk Related to COVID-19 and Youth Sports
- Safety Checklist for Sports Participation during COVID-19
- Use of Cloth Face Coverings in Youth Sport
- Aspen Project Play
- National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA)
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
- National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
- Ohio High School Athletic Association