Youth Sports Practices Get State’s Green Light

HARRISBURG PA – There’s no public conversation, yet, about officially bringing back youth sports in the age of coronavirus. The governor’s office, however, “has issued preliminary guidance” that lets high school and recreational sports teams re-start “voluntary workouts and other in-person activities,” Royersford-based 146th District state Rep. Joe Ciresi said Friday (June 12, 2020).

Ciresi has advocated a resumption of sports activities, now that Pennsylvania counties are slowly re-opening under Gov. Tom Wolf’s color-coded “yellow” and “green” phases. Wolf’s guidance also covers college and professional sports; rules for fall, winter and spring sports seasons may be updated later, Ciresi added.

The highlights:

School team workouts. Public and private kindergarten through 12th grade schools governed by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association, during yellow and green phases, can resume voluntary sports-related workouts. Schools must first develop an athletic health and safety plan approved by the schools’ Boards of Directors and posted their websites.

Recreational team workouts. In counties with green-phase clearance, recreational and amateur sports teams not affiliated with a K-12 school can hold in-person activities, including games and practices. Examples include basketball, hockey, field hockey, football, soccer, swimming, baseball, softball, lacrosse, gymnastics and kickball. Youth sports organizations should follow CDC guidelines.

Crowd control. Gatherings of all participants, including players, athletic staff, officials and spectators are limited to 25 in the yellow phase; and 250, or 50 percent capacity, in the green phase.

Health measures. League and team staff must review CDC guidance for youth sports. Coaches and other adult personnel should wear face coverings and screen athletes for symptoms before practices and games. All participants must follow safe hygiene and social distancing practices, avoid unnecessary physical contact, and clean and disinfect equipment and facilities. Teams are encouraged to stagger drop-off and pick-up times at outdoor locations and designate entrances and exits to facilities.

Spectators. Parents and other spectators should practice social distancing, wear face coverings and not enter the field or bench areas. Parents should monitor children for COVID-19 symptoms and evaluate children at higher risk for severe illnesses.

College teams. College sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), including intramural and club sports, can resume in-person activity after developing an acceptable athletic health and safety plan.

Pro teams. Professional sports can resume immediately. Teams or leagues in the yellow phase, or if more than 250 people are on site in the green phase, must have a COVID-19 safety plan approved by the state Department of Health.

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