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As of December 16, 2021:


Guidance for Sports


Playing sports has a range of physical, emotional, and interpersonal benefits. Due to increased exhalation that occurs during physical activity, however, some sports can put players, coaches, trainers, and others at increased risk for getting and spreading COVID-19. Close contact sports and indoor sports are particularly risky. Sports activities often require people to be together for extended periods of time while participating in games or practices, socializing before and after games, and when traveling to and from events. Several outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with youth sports were reported in 2020-2021. This document provides public health recommendations for minimizing COVID-19 transmission in youth sports settings.

Sports activities conducted during school hours and/or in the indoor premises of school premises, including those conducted as part of physical education classes, must continue to follow the masking requirements outlined in Executive Order No. 251. Those requirements are not impacted by these recommendations.

Additionally, schools should continue to follow guidance in The Road Forward: Health and Safety Guidance for the 2021-2022 School Year for instructional activities, including physical education classes. Additional guidance is available in the NJDOH Public Health Recommendations for Local Health Departments and K-12 Schools.

Prevention Plan

Youth sports organizers/coaches should create an updated written plan that outlines the COVID-19 prevention steps, policies, and procedures that will be followed. Organizers/coaches should educate all staff, athletes, and parents on the plan. Plans should, at minimum, address the following: protocols for when a player/coach/other team member presents with symptoms of COVID-19, protocols for when prevention measures are challenged by players or parents/guardians/visitors, quarantine periods, and coordination with public health authorities on investigation and contact tracing. Youth sports organizers may want to post signage with COVID-19 recommendations at sporting events as a reminder for athletes, staff, and parents.

COVID-19 Prevention Measures

Vaccination -- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing COVID-19 illness, including severe complications and hospitalization. They are one of the most important tools to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and are free for persons who live, work, or study in New Jersey. Being fully vaccinated1 provides the highest level of protection against the virus that causes COVID-19 and can minimize disruptions in the sports season resulting from illness and quarantine. Youth sports organizers should be aware of staff and athlete’s vaccination status to assist public health authorities with contact tracing and to minimize unnecessary exclusions if someone on the team tests positive for COVID-19. If all athletes and staff are not fully vaccinated, layering additional preventive measures, such as masking and physical distancing, is even more important to protect those who are not fully vaccinated.

Physical Distancing -- Youth sports organizers/coaches should encourage physical distancing of players when not actively engaged in practices and games, particularly when individuals are in an indoor setting where not everyone is fully vaccinated. When possible, cohort coaches, players, volunteers and others to avoid mixing between groups and consider staggering practice schedules to limit contact between players and/or groups. Consider physical distancing around entrances, exits, and other high-traffic areas and limiting shared carpools or van pools for unvaccinated athletes. Coaches should encourage unvaccinated individuals to continue to maintain physical distance (and mask) before and after practices/games as well.

Masking -- Wearing masks is an important prevention strategy to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and is particularly important when not everyone is fully vaccinated, when indoors, and when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Unvaccinated Individuals --

Indoors: Unvaccinated individuals are recommended to wear a mask in indoor settings when not actively engaged in a practice or game. This includes sitting on the bench, standing on the sideline/in a huddle, gathering/setting up sporting equipment, or spectating.

Outdoors: Masks are generally not necessary but are encouraged when there is high level of COVID-19 transmission and when close contact with other unvaccinated individuals cannot be avoided.

Fully Vaccinated Individuals --

Indoors: It is recommended that fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of high COVID-19 transmission or where there is increased risk. This includes crowded settings, close contact with others who may not be vaccinated or whose vaccine status is unknown, and if the individual or household member is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease.

Outdoors: Masking is not generally recommended for fully vaccinated individuals. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease, or not fully vaccinated.

Symptom screening -- Athletes, coaches, staff, and others should be encouraged to stay home if ill with COVID-19 symptoms (or if they are unvaccinated and live with someone who has COVID-19). Screening for fever and symptoms via temperature check and/or questionnaire should be done at the beginning of each session. Anyone with a fever or any symptoms of COVID-19 should not participate in activities and should separate from others and either go home or seek medical care if needed. If any individual develops symptoms of COVID-19 during an activity, they should promptly inform organizers and must leave the facility/field. A plan for safely transporting ill persons home or for medical care should be in place.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms include loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Contact tracing -- Coaches should know how to contact their local health department to notify them of persons who test positive and to assist with identifying others who may have been exposed to the ill team member. A team representative should be designated who will be responsible for contacting and coordinating with the local health departments should a COVID-19-positive individual be identified or in the event contact tracing is needed. This representative should be prepared to share the team roster containing contact information of parents/guardians to aid in public health investigation. Hand Hygiene/Personal Hygiene Youth sport organizers/coaches should encourage regular handwashing (soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol), upon arrival and departure from the sports event, at minimum. Restrict spitting, handshakes, high-fives, team huddles, and other close-contact activities. Advise athletes to bring their own water and drinks and limit the use of team water coolers. Cleaning and Disinfection Encourage players to use their own equipment to the extent possible. Sanitize shared/team equipment (balls, bats, etc.) and ensure sufficient disinfecting wipes or similar products are available. Ensure routine and frequent cleaning and disinfecting with an EPAregistered disinfectant, particularly of high-touch surfaces in accordance with CDC recommendations. Indoor Air Flow Youth sports organizers should work with facility management staff to keep doors and windows open where possible and utilize fans to improve ventilation. Facility managers should refer to NJDOH guidance on improving ventilation and indoor air quality.

Testing & Exclusion Testing is an important tool to identify persons with COVID-19, even if they have no symptoms, which can prevent further transmission and outbreaks. Where feasible, prevention plans should include options for testing.

Persons who test positive for COVID-19 should not participate in youth sports activities until they meet the criteria for discontinuing isolation or quarantine.

Persons who are ill: Anyone experiencing fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested for COVID-19 and be referred to medical care if needed. Persons who test positive (or who don’t get tested) should not return to sports until at least 10 days have passed since symptom onset and at least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms have improved.

As of March 1, 2021 -- Outdoor Sports: Outdoor competitions or tournaments must abide by the limit on outdoor gatherings, which is currently limited to 25 people. Athletes, coaches, referees and other individuals necessary for a professional or collegiate sports competition are not counted towards the 25-person limit.  For outdoor sports, the 25-person limit can be exceeded by individuals who are necessary for practice or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, and by up to two parents or guardians per athlete.  Besides the two parents or guardians per athlete, no other spectators may attend. All spectators must follow guidance from the Department of Health regarding sports activities, including wearing a mask, observing social distancing, and staying home if sick.


See also below:


Guidance for Sports

March 18, 2021

Youth and Adult Sports Interstate Restrictions Pursuant to Executive Order No. 232 (2021), all interstate outdoor games and tournaments for youth sports, up to and including high school, are permitted as of March 19, 2021. Interstate youth sports competition includes any sports game, scrimmage, tournament, or similar competition that is conducted outdoors with opposing teams or individuals from different states competing against each other and which would require an opposing team or individual to travel from a state outside of New Jersey. These outdoor competitions are subject to the gatherings limit for non-professional, non-collegiate sports activities, as most recently laid out in Executive Order No. 232. Masking and social distancing should be followed by all athletes (when not actively participating in activity), coaches, referees, trainers, and spectators. All athletes, coaches, trainers, spectators and others who travel outside of the state and immediate region should follow current travel guidance related to quarantine.

The restriction on indoor interstate youth competitions remains in effect. The interstate ban for indoor sports also prohibits out-of-state teams from hosting competitions in the state. This order includes school, recreation, club, and travel teams. In addition, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have extended a regional commitment to suspend interstate hockey competitions for public and private schools and youth hockey through at least March 31, 20201. Summary This “Guidance for Sports Activities” published by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) is intended to guide organizations that oversee sports activities as they resume operations to ensure the health and safety of staff, participants, and their families. The Guidance address skill-building drills and team-based practices as described in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance on Youth Sports.

This guidance document does not apply to professional or collegiate sports activities or US national team activities. High school sporting activities under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) must abide by NJSIAA protocols, which shall consider NJDOH guidance. Club, recreation, and travel teams must follow NJDOH guidance to ensure the safety of athletes and others involved in the sport. The public health data on which this document is based can and do change frequently. Organizers should check back frequently for updates. NJDOH also encourages organizers to keep informed of guidance from the CDC, which may change regularly. 2

Sports program operators must abide by the following risk assessment chart: Risk Level Examples Permissible Activities Prohibited Activities

High risk - Sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants Rugby, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, wrestling, pair figure skating, football, group dance, group cheer. Indoor and Outdoor Practices and Competitions, Outdoor interstate competitions Indoor interstate youth competitions, as defined in EO 194

Medium Risk - Sports that involve some close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place between participants OR intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that use equipment that cannot be cleaned between participants. Lacrosse, hockey, multi-person rowing, multi-person kayaking, multi-person canoeing, water polo, swimming relays, fencing, cycling in a group, running in a close group, group sailing, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball/softball, short track. Indoor and Outdoor Practices and Competitions, Outdoor interstate competitions Indoor interstate youth competitions, as defined in EO 194

Low Risk - Sports that can be done individually, do not involve personto-person contact and do not routinely entail individuals interacting within six feet of one another Archery, shooting/clay target, individual running events, individual cycling events, individual swimming, individual rowing, individual diving, equestrian jumping or dressage, golf, individual sailing, weightlifting, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, individual dance, pole vault, high jump, long jump, marathon, triathlon, cross country, track and field, disc golf, badminton. Indoor and Outdoor Practices and Competitions, Outdoor interstate competitions Indoor interstate youth competitions, as defined in EO 194 3

Guidance for Operations Outdoor and Indoor Sports and Athletic Facilities Organizations, businesses, schools, and government entities that operate outdoor and indoor sports facilities, such as athletic fields, courts and other playing surfaces, pools, and sailing and boating facilities that are permitted to reopen their premises and facilities to adult sports and supervised youth sport leagues, summer sports camps, and other athletic activities should follow the safety measures outlined below.

As a reminder, municipalities retain the discretion to open or close municipal fields or facilities.

1. Preparing a Sports Program forPractices a. Each sports program shall create a plan (“program preparation plan”) to ensure the following: i. Identify adult staff members or volunteers to help remind coaches, players and staff of social distancing. Use of signs, tapes or physical barriers can be used to assist with guiding social distancing requirements. ii. Within the program, consider creating consistent groups of the same staff, volunteers, and athletes, and avoid mixing between groups. iii. Individuals shall remain 6 feet apart from one another whenever possible. This applies to athletes, coaching staff, and referees, as well as parents/guardians and otherspectators to the extent they are permitted. iv. Coaching staff and any parents/guardians that are permitted to attend must wear cloth or disposable masks.

Athletes must wear cloth or disposable masks when not engaging in vigorous activity, such as when sitting on the bench, when interacting with an athletic trainer, etc. Face masks are not required when persons are engaged in high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities.

Face masks should not be worn when engaged in activities that may cause the cloth face covering to become wet, like when swimming, or when doing so may endanger the individual’s health. When face masks are not worn, efforts should be made to maintain at least 6 feet fromothers.

v. Create staggered schedulesto limit contact between groups and/orplayers.

vi. Limit the use of carpools or van pools. When riding in an automobile to a sports event, encourage players to ride to the sports event with persons living in their same household.

vii. All staff should be educated on COVID-19 health and safety protocols prior to the resumption of athletic activities, including: 1. Revised practice rules and regulations in place during COVID-19; 2. The importance of staying home when experiencing symptoms of COVID- 19 or residing with someone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; 3. Social distancing and facecoverings; 4. Proper hand hygiene; 4 5. How to address a situation in which an athlete presents with symptomsof COVID-19; and 6. How do address situations in which social distancing or other necessary requirements are challenged by athletes or parents/guardians/visitors.

viii. Educate athletes and coaching staff about when they should stay home and when they can return toactivity. 1. Actively encourage sick staff, families, and players to stay home. Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisal, and ensure employees are aware of these policies. 2. Individuals, including coaches, players, and families, should stay home if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. 3. Individuals, including coaches, players, and families, who have recently had a close contact with a person with COVID-19 should also stay home and monitor their health. 4. Immediately separate coaches, staff, officials, and athletes with COVID- 19 symptoms at any sports activity. Individuals who have had close contact with a person who has symptoms should be separated and sent home as well, and follow CDC guidance for communityrelated exposure. 5. Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone who is sick to their home or to a healthcarefacility.

ix. All athletes, coaches, and staff should bring their own water and drinks to practice activities. Team water coolers for sharing through disposablecups and other types of shared water sources should not bepermitted

x. Encourage athletes to use their own equipment to the extent possible.

xi. Discourage sharing of equipment as much as possible. If equipment is shared, coaching staff should be aware of the sanitation procedures for team equipment (balls, bats, etc.) and sufficient disinfecting wipes or similar products should be made available.   Consult CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection.

xii. Individually partitioned showers or communal showers with installed barriers/partitions (at least 6 feet apart) are only permitted in facilities with pools (in accordance with the NJAC 8:26, Public Recreational Bathing). Locker room use will otherwise be limited to hand washing and restroom use only. If facility showers are to be used, ensure signage is in place to reminding athletes to maintain proper physical distancing of 6feet. b. Communicate applicable details of the plan to parents/guardians and/or participants before commencing practices. c. Organizers should further consult and implement, as appropriate, recommendations listed in the CDC guidance regarding assessing risk, promoting healthy behaviors, and maintaining a healthy environment during youth sports.

5 2. Preparing an Indoor or Outdoor Facility for Sports Practices a. Each facility that will be used for practices must: i. Post signage in highly visible locations with reminders regarding social distancing protocols, face covering requirements, and good hygiene practices (e.g., hand hygiene, covering coughs); ii. Reduced crowding and enforce proper social distancing around entrances, exits, and other high-traffic areas of the facility; iii. Ensure routine and frequent cleaning and disinfecting, particularly of hightouch surfaces in accordance with CDC recommendations; iv. Limit occupancy in restrooms that remain open to avoid overcrowding, maintain social distancing through signage and, where practicable, utilize attendants to monitor capacity;and v. Have hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or other sanitizing materials readily available at entrances, exits, benches, dugouts, and any other area prone to gathering or hightraffic. vi. On any given field or space, there must be sufficient space between designated groups to prevent any interaction between the groups. b. Indoor facilities should ensure appropriate indoor air/ventilation by: i. Keeping doors and windows open where possible and utilize fans to improve ventilation. ii. Inspect and evaluate the heating, ventilation and conditioning (HVAC) unit to ensure that the system is operating within its design specifications and according to existing building code standards. iii. Conducting routine maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer or HVAC professional. iv. Within the design specification of the HVAC unit: 1. Increasing the volume of outdoor air to the maximum capacity while the gym is occupied. 2. Reducing the volume of recirculated air being returned to the indoor spaces 3. Increasing the volume of air being delivered to the indoor spaces to the maximum capacity 4. Selecting maximum filtration levels for the HVACunit. 5. Ensuring that the HVAC unit runs continuously while the facility is occupied. 6. Ensuring that the HVAC unit runs for at least two hours before and two hours after the facility is occupied. 7. Considering installing portable air cleaners equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to increase the amount of clean air within the facility. 8. Reviewing and following the latest CDC guidance for ventilation requirements.

6 3. Conducting SportsPractices a. All athletes, coaches, staff and others participating in practices and competitions must be screened, via temperature check and/or health questionnaire1 , at the beginning of each session. Players, coaches, staff, and volunteers showing symptoms of COVID-19 shall not be permitted to participate. If any individual develops symptoms of COVID-19 during the activity, they should promptly inform organizers and must be removed from the activity and instructed to return home. b. Coaches, staff, visitors and athletes will be required to abide by the gatherings/ limitations as set forth in Executive Orders and/or Administrative Orders in effect at the time of competition. c. Encourage practice activities that do not involve sustained person-to-person contact between athletes and/or coaching staff and limit such activities in indoor settings. For example, focus on individualskill-buildingactivities. d. Adhere to precautions outlined in the program preparation plan. e. Ensure that athletes and coaches adhere to social distancing while not actively involved in practice activities (on the bench, in the dugout, etc.). Considerassigning coaching staff to monitor sideline social distancing. f. If any equipment is provided by the operator, operators must minimize equipment sharing and clean and disinfect shared equipment at the end of a practice session using a product from the list ofdisinfectants meeting EPA criteria for use against the novel coronavirus. Do not permit athletes to share food, beverages, water bottles, towels, pinnies, gloves, helmets or any other equipment or materials that is involved in direct bodily contact. g. Consider dividing larger teams into smaller groups and staggering practices at different times or across differentdays. h. Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, staff, volunteers, vendors, members of the media, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible. Visitors and spectators should wear face masks at all times, unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health or the individual is under the age of two. i. Where they are permitted, operators are encouraged to mark offspectator/chaperone viewing sites to allow for social distancing. Visitors showing symptoms of COVID-19 shall not be permitted to attend. j. Restrict spitting, handshakes, high-fives, team huddles, and any other close- contacting activities.

1 Examples of appropriate screening documents can be accessed at (CDC screener), or screening-questions_0.pdf (NJSIAA screener). 7 4. Preparing for games andtournaments Competitions, tournaments, invitationals, and other activities or events that involve interaction between athletes from the same team or between teams, while permitted, carry significant risks that operators, towns, coaches, parents and others should carefully consider before proceeding. If participating in or organizing a competition, tournament, or invitational: a. Follow protocols listed above under “conducting sports practices.” b. Coaches, staff, visitors and athletes will be required to comply with the gathering limitations, as set forth in Executive Directives and Administrative Orders, in effect at the time of competition. c. Concession stands should meet the requirements for indoor and outdoor dining outlined in the applicable Executive Orders and ExecutiveDirectives. d. Consider social distancing requirements when scheduling contests and events. Social distancing will need to be maintained on buses/vans. Thus, multiple buses/vans and/or individual parent/guardian transportation will likely be required. Games should be scheduled at intervals that allow for proper sanitation of facilities and equipment following eachgame. Additional notes: • Contract Tracing/Public Health Investigation: Operators, coaches, participants, and others engaging in sports activities must cooperate with local health departments (LHDs) on contact tracing.

Contact tracing is the process used to identify those who have come into contact with people who have tested positive for many contagious diseases, including COVID-19. It is a long-standing practice and is an integral function of LHDs. Given that club sports teams and recreational sports teams are comprised of students enrolled in local school districts, it will be necessary for both club/recreational youth sports staff and school district staff, including but not limited to administrators, school nurses, school safety specialists, counselors, and any other staff deemed appropriate by the school district, to collaborate with and assist LHDs with contact tracing in the event of illness of a player, coach, referee, athletic trainer, and/or anyone else involved with a sports team/group. Additionally, all school districts and club/recreational youth sports staff should collaborate with LHDs to develop contact tracing policies and procedures, as well as identify the best methods to educate the broader school and youth sports community on the importance of the public health investigation and contact tracing. • Behavior of the athletes off the field. Athletes who do not consistently adhere to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, handwashing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk to the team than those who consistently practiced these safety measures. Operators and coaches should encourage all participants to abide by applicable infection control protocols outside of the sports activity. • Testing of participants. Testing is recommended if an athlete, coach, or other team member is sick, was exposed to a person who has COVID-19 or had “close contact” with an individual. Any further testing recommendations are dependent on the re-evaluation of the state’s testing priorities.