General COVID-19 Guidelines

ASAA Guide for the Return to Play in a Scholastic Setting in Stage 2

General Guidelines

The purpose of this document is to give general recommendations on how to run athletics in a scholastic setting during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital that before any Return to Play occurs, you consult your school district’s superintendent. Your superintendent is responsible for determining what Return to Play will look like in your school district. Further, each school principal will determine how Return to Play will be implemented in their building. The ASAA will provide links to various provincial sport organization (PSO) return to sport protocols along with recommended local practices; neither the ASAA nor PSOs have jurisdiction over implementation strategies in your school district or school.

The ASAA will determine what happens with each of the seasons of play and their championships for each ASAA sport as circumstances allow and it will remain flexible in its actions based on the directions from Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Government of Alberta (GoA).

Prior to any Return to Play, it is strongly recommended that you are familiar with all of the AHS and GoA guidelines, the Return to Play guidelines from your sport’s PSO, and have a very detailed rapid response plan in the event a participant tests positive for COVID-19.

These guidelines will be updated as GOA restrictions change.

Table of Contents

  1. Cohorts
  2. Participant Tracing
  3. Pre-Screening of Participants
  4. Rapid Response Plan
  5. Masks
  6. Group Equipment
  7. Individual Equipment
  8. Scheduling
  9. Entry/Exit Points
  10. Celebrations
  11. Locker/Change Rooms
  12. Transportation
  13. Spectators
  14. Travel
  15. Competition
  16. Insurance

Cohorts

A Cohort is a group of up to 50 individuals who gather for the purpose of participating in a sporting activity.

All individuals in a cohort must be on and stay on the same school team; joint school teams may still exist within these Guidelines.

See the following GoA Guidance for Cohorts.

Individuals (athlete, coach, manager, etc.) are only allowed to participate in one sport cohort at one time.

At Stage 2 of the Government of Alberta Relaunch Strategy competition between cohorts is strictly prohibited, both within a region and between regions. It is strongly recommended that social distancing still be used within a cohort whenever it is possible.

ASAA Restriction: Where approved by a school jurisdiction, in-school sport practices only which involve students from your school are permitted at this time. No interschool or inter-zone activity can occur at this time.

Cohort groups are a way for individuals to participate in a sport or physical activity in close proximity to others.

  • Cohorts help to mitigate risk of widespread transmission by limiting the number of individuals in close contact. In Stage 2, 50-person mini-leagues can be formed in a cohort group for sports or physical activity that involve participant interaction at a distance of less than 2 metres.
  • The 50-person sport cohort maximum includes coaches/staff, instructors, participants from multiple teams, officials, and volunteers. Each mini-league can be comprised of multiple teams, but still only a total of 50 individuals who are limited to that cohort of 50 only.
  • Teams in different cohorts cannot play each other (same school or otherwise)
  • There can be no substitutions in or out of a cohort without having new participants not participate for 14 days prior to being involved if they have come from another cohort. Students and any school athletic team personnel who have been involved in summer/fall club or community sports must sit out 14 days before joining a school team for practice or any other activity.
  • It is recommended that cohorts be supervised by a responsible person whose role is oversight over maintenance of the group and other public health guidance. It is strongly recommended that this individual is a teacher or administrator and has a very in-depth understanding of the AHS guidelines, PSO recommendations and their school district’s policies.

When participating in Cohort groups, you should:

  • interact outdoors if possible - it’s safer than indoors
  • avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places and close contact settings
  • keep the cohort in your local community or neighborhood to reduce geographic spread
  • be healthy and not show any COVID-19 symptoms (see the full symptom list)
  • have not travelled outside Canada in the last 14 days
  • have not been in close contact with a case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • keep track of where you go, when you are there and who you meet:
    • this will be helpful if someone is exposed to COVID-19.
    • download the contact tracing app recomended by the provincial government. This may help to let you know if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or if you have exposed someone else to COVID-19.

While 50 is the maximum number of individuals you are allowed to have within a cohort as per AHS guidelines, the ASAA strongly recommends that the size of cohorts be kept to a minimum to lower the risk associated. The ASAA Executive Committee will address any GoA changes to cohort limits in a timely manner.

If an individual wants to change cohorts to participate in another sport or with another group within the same sport , they must not participate in any cohort for 14 days. Changing cohorts does not require individuals to quarantine or self isolate.

The ASAA strongly recommends that individuals that are at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 or live in the same household as someone who is, refrain from participating in a sport cohort.

Participant Tracking

  • To support public health contact tracing efforts in the event that a participant tests positive, it is strongly recommended that the names and contact information of participants is collected each time there is a practice or competition.
  • Providing information is voluntary for patrons. An organization must obtain an individual’s consent and notify them about the purpose and legal authority for the collection.
  • It is strongly recommended that all participants (signed by a parents/guardians) sign a Event Participation Waiver plus sign a Daily Attestation prior to participating in any sanctioned athletic activity.
  • Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contact tracing can only be used for that purpose. Information about participants will only be requested by Alberta Health Services if a potential exposure occurs onsite.

Click here for more information on Participant Tracking.

Pre-Screening of Participants

  • It is strongly recommended that all participants go through screening before participating in activities.
  • Any participant that is exhibiting any symptoms cannot enter the facility or participate as per AHS guidelines.

Click here for the AHS Self-Assessment Tool


Rapid Response Plan

  • A rapid response plan sets out a fast-action plan for operators when an participants shows symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.
  • It is strongly recommended that all activities come to a stop in the event a participant tests positive until all individuals have been tested and receive a negative result.
  • School Personnel should develop a plan that includes appropriate policies and procedures based on the type of participants specific to their services and settings.
  • Staff should be familiar with and follow the rapid response plan if a participant starts feeling symptoms during sporting activity.
  • AHS guidelines state that this plan should include:
    • Immediately isolating the participants from others.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces that may have come into contact with the symptomatic participants.
    • Requiring hand hygiene and masking of the participants.
    • The attendee must self-isolate away from school as soon as possible.
    • Informing school administrators of the situation.

Click here for the GoA guidance document for Sport, Physical Activity, and Recreation (rapid response plan ionformation on page 12).

Click here to get tested for COVID-19.

Masks

  • It is recommended that cohort participants wear masks when they are not engaging in physical activity. A mask when worn properly can help reduce the spread of COVID-19
  • Masks do not need to be worn during intense physical activity based on the following CDC guidelines:
  • It is strongly recommended that individuals not participating in physical activity such as coaches and trainers wear masks at all times.


Group Equipment

  • If any equipment is being used, it is strongly recommended at a minimum that equipment be sanitized before and after each session
  • It is recommended that equipment not be shared with other cohorts without proper sanitizing.
  • It is recommended that the number of people setting up and putting away the equipment be kept to a minimum and respect social distancing guidelines.
  • It is strongly recommended that hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes be made available to participants and those responsible for setting up and putting away of equipment.


Individual equipment

  • It is strongly recommended that participants not share their personal equipment with anyone. (e.g.: Cleats, Pads, Helmets, Clubs, etc…)
  • All participants should have their own labelled water bottles and water bottles should not be shared or stored in close proximity to one another
  • All equipment of individuals should be labelled with the participant’s name
  • All equipment of individuals should be kept at least 2 metres from another participant’s equipment whenever practical

Scheduling

  • It is recommended that activities be scheduled with sufficient time between activities to avoid any overlap of players on the court or field or other sports facility.
  • Congestion during pick up and drop off should be avoided

Entry/Exit Points

  • Entry points such as doors are recommended to be propped open if they can be. It is strongly recommended that entry points should be sanitized before and after each session.
  • If facilities allow, different entry and exit points should be used.
  • It is strongly recommended that hand sanitizer be supplied near entry and exit points.


Celebrations

  • It is recommended celebrations such as handshakes, fist to fist contact, high fives or any other physical contact do not occur during any school sport related physical activity at this time.


Locker rooms / Change Rooms / sideline

  • It is strongly recommended that locker rooms or change rooms not be used at this time
  • All participants should come to activities fully dressed and ready to participate
  • AHS guidelines suggest physical distancing (2m) be followed on the sideline and when not in competition


Transportation

  • If transportation is permitted for the purposes of athletics, it is strongly recommended transportation to and from activities be only with members of the same household if possible


Spectators

  • It is strongly recommended that activities occur without spectators at this time. However, if spectators are approved by the school district and principal to be present, they must comply with the maximum of gathering limits and must maintain physical distancing of at least two metres from other individuals or household groups.

Click here for the Alberta Government restrictions on gatherings


Travel

  • Activities should be restricted to local opportunities and in respect of the 50 maximum for cohorts at this time.
    • This means within a neighbourhood, town or municipality.
  • Participants must not seek sport, physical activity and recreation opportunities in other regions, or out of province.
  • Cross-jurisdictional, or inter-regional, play must not occur at this stage; it is not permitted as per AHS requirements.

Competition

  • No competition between schools is permitted at this time. If and when there are changes to cohort restrictions and inter-regional play by the GoA, the ASAA Execut ive will revisit this restriction.
  • Be aware that there may be different restrictions for some sports versus others. e.g. some sports that can physically distance may have less restrictive guidelines, but these are not published at this time. Any impact of different restrictions will be addressed by the ASAA Executive when published by GoA.

Click here for Alberta Government Regional Information


Insurance

  • This is a school district issue, and there are only a few insurers of school districts in Alberta, as many of them belong to insurance “consortiums” with other school districts. However, you should be aware, through your superintendent or principal if there are any insurance related issues that may impact your school athletics program, with AHS restrictions always taking precedence over local decisions or policies.
  • Examples of considerations include but are not limited to:
    • transportation restrictions (travel distance, physical distancing in vehicles, overnight trip requirements if such trips are allowed, etc.),
    • number of spectators allowed at school events,
    • participant tracking protocols like attendance lists for each practice or competition,
    • use of masks, hand sanitizer, etc.
  • Additionally, if you have insurance coverage for your sports team through a PSO, like most high school football teams do with Football Alberta for example, you should contact that PSO to obtain an in-depth understanding of what that coverage entails, then work within those guidelines.