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September 3, 2021 3:59 PM

Guidance from the Health Officer: Youth Sports and Extracurricular Activities

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This guidance applies to school sports and extracurricular activities for public and private K-12 schools operating in Sonoma County, along with other youth sports and extracurricular activities outside of the school setting. This guidance incorporates the state youth sports guidance. The purpose of this guidance is to reduce the incidence and spread of COVID-19 infection in our communities by supporting a safer environment for all who participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. This guidance is recommended regardless of the vaccination rates among adults or children. Please also review CDC guidance for K-12 school setting for further recommendations that also take into consideration county transmission rates.

Sonoma County values the many benefits of extracurricular activities. The latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant, calls for measures to protect our younger population engaging in such activities, while taking into consideration community transmission rates as noted on CDC COVID tracker and Sonoma County case data.

Sonoma County recommends the following precautions for all youth sports and extracurricular activities in Sonoma County:

  1.  Masks are required indoors for all participants, coaches, personnel, and spectators pursuant to existing state and local health orders.

Everyone must wear face masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are required for both competition and practice, during physical education, conditioning/weightlifting, and other indoor activities.  Link to CDPH Guidance and local order.
Exceptions:

Participants in indoor water sports such as swimming, water polo, or diving, may remove their face masks while they are in the water. Participants must wear face masks when not in the water.

Participants in wrestling or certain martial arts may remove masks while actively engaged in a match due to the risk of suffocation. Participants must wear masks when not actively engaged in a match.

Masks are recommended outdoors when distancing between households is not practical or possible, for example, for athletes on the sidelines or spectators in the stands.

2. Vaccination
COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended for all participants who are old enough to be eligible for vaccination, as well as coaches, staff and volunteers.

Having all athletes and staff in your league fully vaccinated will greatly decrease the risk of transmission of the virus among teammates and between teams, and will provide excellent protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. It will also decrease disruption in team activities, since fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine if they are close contacts to a case of COVID-19.

It is safest to limit high-risk sports and extracurricular activities, which include indoor sports, outdoor football, water polo, and other activities that involve singing, shouting, band, or exercise, especially when conducted indoors, to youth who are fully vaccinated, as noted in CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in schools.

3. Regular testing of unvaccinated participants and staff, including volunteers, in high-risk activities
If it is not feasible to limit participation to fully vaccinated individuals, Sonoma County Public Health recommends regular COVID-19 screening testing in unvaccinated youth and staff involved with all indoor high-risk sports and extracurricular activities. Where resources allow, consider testing for all sports and extracurricular activities. Testing is not necessary for asymptomatic people who are fully vaccinated or who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

Recommended Testing Types and Frequency
a. Once a week if using a PCR test, such as school-based Color or Cue PCR tests, or PCR testing performed at a clinic or medical facility.
b. Twice a week if using a rapid antigen test, such as BinaxNOW.
i. A positive antigen test from someone who is asymptomatic (has no COVID-19 symptoms) should be retested with a PCR test within 24-48 hours to confirm. These tests should be treated as true positives and patients should be advised to isolate until confirmatory PCR results are back.
ii. A negative antigen test in a symptomatic individual should be retested with a PCR test within 24-48 hours to confirm. This scenario should be uncommon as people with symptoms are instructed to stay home until they have been tested and received a negative result.

c. Due to the potential of user error, home testing should not be used for routine surveillance and certainly not for quarantine, isolation, or outbreak management.
d. Individuals who test positive should be sent home immediately to isolate.

4. Prevent spread of COVID-19 off the field
Participants and families should be reminded that COVID-19 often spreads off-the-field, especially in situations when groups let their guard down and eat or socialize together with their masks off (post-game parties, locker rooms, carpools).

Locker room Recommendations

  • Limit congregating in locker rooms
    • Players should arrive dressed to play as much as possible.
    • Use locker rooms only to change or use the restroom. Avoid using the locker room for coaching or pregame, halftime or postgame talks.
    • Avoid having different teams use a locker room at the same time.
  • Ensure mask use in locker rooms.
    • Consider closing showers.

Transportation Recommendations

Team buses and vans

  • Masks are required pursuant to existing state and local orders.
  • Keep windows open. Turn the fan on high and set it to outdoor air.
  • If more than one vehicle is used, have the same people ride together to and from the activity.

Carpooling

  • Encourage participants and staff who carpool to ride with the same people each time travel occurs.
  • Everyone in the vehicle should wear a face mask.
  • Open the windows. Turn the fan on high and set it to outdoor air.

Travel Recommendations

  • Overnight travel is not recommended, but when it does occur, team members not from the same household should sleep in separate rooms or in consistent groups when feasible. Keep masks on whenever visiting other members’ hotel rooms.
  • Socializing with other teams is strongly discouraged.
  • Teams that travel out-of-state or outside the Bay Area are encouraged to follow CDC recommendations for quarantine after travel

High-contact indoor sports include: basketball, boxing, futbol (indoor soccer), ice hockey, martial arts with sparring, water polo, wrestling and partner dance.

Moderate sports include: cheer, kickball; volleyball; racquetball or squash; doubles tennis, pickleball or badminton.