The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that anywhere from 35 to 45 million young Americans are enrolled in some sort of school sports program during any given season.
As the weather improves and school sports for the spring and summer resume, you may be wondering whether or not your own child should sit this season out. Every school will differ slightly in its COVID-19 policy; if the season hasn’t been canceled, there’s a lot you can do to keep the whole flock safe and healthy, both on the field and off.
1. Make a plan
If you’re a coach or a volunteer, the CDC recommends modifying your approach to school sports. This may take many forms:
- Modifying practice activities, conditioning, and other drills to be more socially-distanced
- Sanitizing all equipment after each session
- If possible, minimize equipment- and garment-sharing between athletes
- Encouraging good hygiene and etiquette between players
- Creating documents and signs as reminders and sources of guidance
- Providing PPE and things like hand sanitizer when needed
- Choose outdoor activities over training indoors when you can
If anybody on the team starts to exhibit symptoms, they should get tested immediately, or at least before your next practice session or game. While masking during the game isn’t necessary, all coaches and adult assistants should be properly masked at all times.
Consulting your friendly, local pediatrician is one great way to gain some insight if you feel that you’re not doing enough.
2. Form practice pods
What is a COVID-19 pod? Basically, it’s a group of COVID-negative people who agree to limit their social circle to only themselves in order to avoid contaminating the group with an infection from the outside. They’re also known as COVID-19 “bubbles” or “quaranteams”—if everybody on your team is confirmed to be COVID-free, there’s no reason that they can’t practice and play together.
Clearly, when playing against teams from other schools, things get a little more complicated. For very young athletes competing on an exclusively intramural basis, however, this is one very helpful solution that keeps kids active and healthy together.
3. Avoid close quarters
Most spring sports take place outdoors—some contend that your kid isn’t really at risk when giving it their all on the playing field. Instead, you should be worrying more about any time the entire group is packed in together—bus transportation to your away games, locker rooms, and the inevitable pizza party after a big win.
Masking is one obvious solution, along with social distancing, especially in an indoor, unventilated setting. Any child older than two should be wearing a mask where appropriate, especially when around a lot of other kids from another school district.
Many venues still request masks for unvaccinated guests, so be aware of the rules in your area and mask up when appropriate.
4. Test before day one
School testing happens to be one of our favorite community services—it only takes thirty seconds per student, and it dispels doubt like nothing else can. If your school doesn’t test regularly, you might consider it independently for all of the children on your team.
If nobody on the team is symptomatic, you probably have nothing to worry about. The guarantee of a negative COVID test, however, may put some parents (and kids!) at ease. This may be the case especially in the wake of a large conference or another team outing, if applicable.
Sometimes, the uncertainty just isn’t worth it. If you’re on the market for team testing, we’re more than happy to oblige. Click through here to get started.
What if baseball is canceled this year?
The CDC has always been very vocal about the importance of in-person learning and socialization for children, especially in their earliest school days. If your district chooses to opt out this year, there are still tons of ways that you and your family can stay active on your own terms.
Family bike rides, long, scenic hikes, and, of course, an impromptu romp around the backyard after dinner are some safe activities for your household to participate in.