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On August 24, 2021, Sonoma County Public Health issued a recommendation strongly discouraging overnight field trips in all school settings due “the high incidence of COVID-19 currently being experienced in our county and the increase in transmissibility of the Delta variant.” (https://socoemergency.org/public-health-school-recommendations/) This guidance provides recommendations to school officials and youth sports organizers who are considering overnight group trips and excursions for fully vaccinated adults and students. Current evidence supports that fully vaccinated individuals can safely participate in many activities that they did before the pandemic, including that fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to get and spread SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and can now travel at low risk to themselves within the United States. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html)
School officials and youth sports organizations planning overnight group trips and excursions for fully vaccinated adults and students should still consider implementing the following strategies to encourage behaviors that reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infection in youth sports and overnight trips.
- School officials and youth sports organizations should verify that all participants, including students, athletes, teachers, coaches, chaperones, and volunteers, are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated is defined as an individual’s status two weeks following the individual’s receipt of a single-dose COVID-19 Vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 Vaccine. School officials and youth sports organizations can verify the vaccine status of individuals with one of the following:
- The original U.S. Department of Health and Human Services CDC vaccination card issued to the individual following administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine (CDC card);
- An electronic image of the CDC card or WHO Yellow Card;
- A digital copy of the individual’s COVID-19 Vaccine record, obtained through https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/;
- Medical record from a licensed healthcare provider that the individual is fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine;
- The original WHO International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis issued to the individual following administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine in a foreign country (WHO Yellow Card); or
- A paper photograph or photocopy of the CDC Card or WHO Yellow Card
- Students, staff, and volunteers must wear masks indoors and in shared vehicles while on field trips and travel to sporting events and competitions with the following exception
- The organizer (e.g., teacher, coach) has verified that all individuals present are fully vaccinated;
- There are no more than one hundred individuals present, and the group of persons present gathers on a regular basis (e.g., classroom, sports team);
- The host or organizer can control access to the setting, and the setting is not open to the public or others not in the class or team cohort;
For additional requirements see Amendment No. 1 to the Order of the Health Officer of the County of Sonoma C19-25 (October 21, 2021).
- All athletes should wear a face mask between practice drills, on the sidelines, when arriving at or departing from the playing facility, while in a locker room, while not on the playing field, and during shared transportation to/from an event. It is important that the face mask fits the athlete well and is worn over the nose and below the chin. If the face mask is removed for a break, the athlete should remain at least three feet away from all other people.For outdoor sports, athletes should be encouraged to wear face masks on the sidelines and during all group training and competition in which there is sustained contact of three feet or less.
- Face masks should always be worn by coaches, referees, officials, spectators, and volunteers. Coaches, referees, and other club/school officials should monitor proper use and encourage all athletes to have a well-fitting face mask in place in accordance with the above guidance and local regulations.
- Face masks should be required for everyone riding the bus or vehicle, including drivers.
- Drivers should carry a supply of face masks in case a student forgets theirs.
- Occupants should not sing, chant, shout, or scream while in a vehicle, indoors or any enclosed space.
- Keep vehicle windows open when weather and safety permit.
- Turn the fan on high, set to outdoor air.
- If more than one vehicle is used, for example, for a sports team, have the same people ride together each time, and try to assign groups that already interact with each other to the same vehicle (ex. varsity vs JV, offense vs defense).
- Disinfection for COVID-19 not needed unless someone with COVID-19 has used the bus within the last 24 hours.
- Avoid sharing meals or eating/drinking, if possible.
- Avoid sharing hotel rooms/living space when away from home.
- Avoid unmasked social activities together away from competition (i.e., swimming in hotel pools, eating meals together, social time in hotel lobby).
- School officials and youth sports organizations should familiarize themselves, and inform all participants, with applicable local regulations for physical distancing and use of face masks.
- Weighing the risk versus benefit of return to sports is driven by the sport and setting, local disease activity, and individual circumstances, including underlying health conditions that place the athlete or household contacts at elevated risk of severe disease should they contract SARS-CoV-2 infection. Ultimately, the decision falls on parents/guardians to decide whether they will allow their children to participate in sports.
- Parents and other spectators with high-risk health conditions should strongly consider not attending indoor events or events held outdoors where appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained. Live streaming or recording of athletic events, when available, may allow people who are unable to attend to participate in viewing events.