COVID-Safe Practices for Youth Sports and Programs

COVID-Safe Practices for Summer Youth Sports & Programs


  • Establish and continue communication with local and state authorities to determine current mitigation levels in your community. Check state and local health department notices daily about transmission in the area and adjust operations accordingly.
  • Follow Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Guidance for Schools and Childcare Programs.
  • In person programs and sports must be restricted to no more than 5 individuals, including coaches, staff, and parents, and limited to youth who live in the local geographic area only (within a 50-mile radius).
  • Limit activities to only those that maintain 6 feet distancing. For sports activities, prohibit congregation of players during warm-up, while at rest or hydration breaks, or when entering or leaving the practice site.
  • Sports activities must be restricted to conditioning and skills development. Competitive play and scrimmaging are not permitted.
  • Ensure that student and staff groupings are as self-contained as possible by having the same group of children stay with the same staff. Restrict mixing children between groups.
  • Inform high risk staff and children on the need for additional actions (such as not attending or having additional restrictions). This should include contact with high risk family members.
  • Have adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors, including soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer), tissues, and no- touch trash cans.
  • Post signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, properly wash hands, promote everyday protective measures, and properly wear a face covering. Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily (e.g., playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains). Doors should be kept open when possible. Restrooms require additional cleaning protocols.
  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods. Do not open windows and doors if they pose a safety or health risk (e.g., allowing pollens in or exacerbating asthma symptoms) risk to children using the facility.
  • Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, drinking fountains, decorative fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
  • Provide COVID-19 testing to all staff prior to the start of the program. Retest as needed throughout the duration of the program.
  • Conduct staff trainings regarding the proper use and disposal of PPE as well as COVID-19 safety and cleaning protocols before the program begins and throughout the program as needed.
  • Conduct trainings for children regarding hygiene and safety protocols including proper hand washing, touching of face, covering mouth and nose when coughing/sneezing and social distancing.
  • Space seating/desks to at least six feet apart.
  • Masks are required for adults in public settings and recommended for children three and older, with exceptions for eating, drinking, swimming and medical requirements. The general principle is that masks are used to limit potential harm to others by helping reduce their risk of infection (and they may have a secondary benefit to the wearer as well).
  • Temperatures of children and staff should be taken daily with a touchless thermometer. Individuals with elevated temperatures (above 100.4 F) or with COVID-19 related symptoms should stay home.
  • Avoid field trips, inter-group events, and extracurricular activities or group gatherings greater than 6 people.
  • Restrict group transportation including carpooling.
  • Restrict nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving outside groups.
  • Close communal use spaces such as cafeterias and playgrounds. If not possible, stagger use and disinfect in between use. During meals maintain same groups of students and adults.
  • Have pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee instead of a buffet or family-style meal. Avoid sharing of food, drinks and utensils.
  • Stagger arrival and drop-off times and locations. Establish protocols to limit direct contact with parents as much as possible. Children waiting to be picked up should be kept within their small groups and kept 6 feet apart.
  • Keep each child’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas.
  • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high touch materials (art supplies, sports equipment, etc.). Assign equipment to a single individual or limit use of supplies and equipment by one group of children at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Implement screenings safely, respectfully, as well as in accordance with any applicable privacy laws or regulations. Confidentiality should be maintained.
  • School and camp administrators may use examples of screening methods in CDC’s supplemental Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open as a guide for screening children and CDC’s General Business FAQs for screening staff.
  • Plan for when a staff, child, or visitor becomes sick. Provide a child or staff member who is sick with the CDC COVID-19 handout. Advise sick staff members not to return until they have met CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation. Provide information on how to prevent infecting other family members and when their children can return.
  • Children that become sick should be picked up immediately. For emergency situations, camp staff should call 911.
  • If a camp staff member or child becomes sick with COVID-19, notify the NM Department of Health so they can implement contact tracing.
  • Notify staff and families based on advice from the NM Department of Health for potential risk of exposure and information on the next steps.
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should be retested before returning.
  • Work with program administrators, nurses, and other healthcare providers to identify an isolation room or area to separate anyone who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms. Nurses and other healthcare providers should use Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions when caring for sick people. See the CDC’s What Healthcare Personnel Should Know About Caring for Patients with Confirmed or Possible COVID-19 Infection.
  • Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use before cleaning and disinfection. Wait 24 hours before you clean and disinfect. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants and keep disinfectant products away from children.
  • In the event a person diagnosed with COVID-19 is determined to have been in the building and poses a risk to the community, programs may consider closing for a short time (1-2 days) for cleaning and disinfection.
  • Implement flexible sick leave policies and practices, if feasible.
  • Develop a COVID-19 communication plan and provide a forum for staff, children and parents for answering questions and addressing concerns.
  • Appoint a COVID-Safe Practice leader or team to enact safe practices in the workplace.

Additional Resources

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