New guidelines for youth & adult sports in Vt.


MEMBERS OF THE Middlebury Union High School girls’ soccer team walk off the field Tuesday after their first practice, wearing face masks that are mandatory for all Vermont high school sports this fall. Independent photo/Steve James

ADDISON COUNTY — New mandates recently released by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) take the rules for playing school sports during the COVID-19 pandemic and apply them also to organized youth and adult sports. That ruling took effect on the same date as school sports practices began, Sept. 8.

The biggest change for many athletes, notably those who played youth club sports or in adult sports leagues over the summer?

This: 

“Beginning Sept. 8, cloth face coverings will be required at all times when physical distance of six feet cannot be consistently maintained, including during practices, scrimmages, games, meets and competitions for sports that involve contact or close proximity.”

The mandate extends to the sidelines:

“Cloth face coverings are required to be worn by all players, coaches, officials, staff, and spectators who are not immediately involved in active play at all times, consistent with the most current health guidance published by the Department of Health on face coverings. For example, face coverings should be in place during team meetings, timeouts or stoppages, while on the bench or in a dugout, etc.”

The mask mandate does not, thus, appear to apply to sports that the agency describes as outdoor sports that are “no or low-contact,” which it lists as “cross country running (with staggered starts), golf, tennis, bass fishing tournaments, sideline cheer, single sculling, alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, track and field.” Those no or low-contact are still limited to meet sizes of 150 total people. 

It does make exceptions to the mask rule for those with “a documented medical or behavioral reason” for not wearing one.

The new rules also state that “all players, coaches, officials, staff, and spectators should complete a health check before arriving at practice sessions, scrimmages, games, meets or competitions.”

The state is encouraging coaches and sports administrators to promote an “arrive, play and leave” mentality; and to actively discourage gathering in groups before or after activities. This will promote social distancing. Players who arrive at the game dressed will limit the time they have to spend cooped up in the locker room with others. 

The agency also suggests leagues and organizations should give “strong consideration” to rules changes that “promote physical distancing. They suggested, for instance, eliminating face-offs in boys’ lacrosse; modifying corner kicks in soccer; removing checking in ice hockey.

The rules also deal with outdoor sports with “short-duration, incidental contact” such as soccer, softball, baseball, girls’ lacrosse, field hockey, 7-on-7 football and crew. Those sports may hold team practices, scrimmages and games, as can outdoor sports with “close proximity or moderate contact,” such as boys’ lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, and three-on-three basketball.  

High-contact sports with “close proximity or moderate contact” — such as football, wrestling, rugby, typical basketball and cheerleading — may hold practices if they are limited to no- or low-contact physical conditioning and skill drills. Full-contact scrimmages and games and cheer stunting are not permitted.  

In sports that are allowed to hold games or meets, organizers or home teams must maintain lists of participants for 30 days to assist in contact tracing.

Travel restrictions are also imposed. Sporting events in Vermont may only involve Vermont-based teams or teams from counties eligible for quarantine-free travel to Vermont, based on the most recent map published by the ACCD.

Individual players from bordering states who belong to a Vermont-based team, club, organization or league are allowed to play, but must follow Vermont recreational visitation guidelines.

Vermont players and teams traveling to out-of-state events in locations or with participants from areas that are ineligible for quarantine-free travel to Vermont must quarantine upon their return.

Jamboree or tournament-style play is not permitted.

SPECTATOR LIMITS

The number of people present at events should be limited as much as possible, and measures should be put in place to ensure social distancing, the rules state, and spectators should not attend practices and scrimmages.

At no time shall the number of people present exceed current limits on events — 75 indoors and 150 outdoors — nor shall the number of people present exceed 50% of the fire safety occupancy limit of a venue, or one person per 100 square feet.

Equipment, and other supplies touched by participants, must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected regularly, and sharing equipment should be limited as much as possible.

Notably, spitting and sharing of water bottles is not allowed.

The agency will review, and if necessary update, the rules on or about Oct. 15.

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100