DETROIT – While the debate over how to reopen schools rages on, many youth sports are already bringing children back together in Michigan.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its advice on how to safely resume youth sports amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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As with every activity, the focus is on reducing risks because they can’t be eliminated completely.
There are a number of changes in the guidelines that make sense and are likely a preview of what children could see when school returns in the fall.
“Avoid physical contact like high-fives, handshakes, fist bumps and hugs,” the CDC says.
The goal is to keep at least six feet of space between players “whenever possible.”
Among the recommendations is to focus more on individual skills and limit full contact between players to gamedays.
For larger teams, create small groups within the team that stay together, and only interact with the rest of the team when absolutely necessary, the CDC recommends.
“Coaches, parents, fans, officials and sports staff should wear a cloth face covering,” the CDC says.
For players, the CDC says masks are most important when it’s hard to keep six feet of separation, but it leaves the decision up to parents, schools and coaches.
Each player should have their own equipment, and any equipment that’s shared should be cleaned between players, the guidelines recommend.
The CDC released a graphic illustrating the risk of various activities. On the lower end is practicing drills at home or with the team. Moderate risk includes scrimmaging with your own team. Competing with other teams from the area are a higher risk, and the highest risk is competing with teams outside your area.
Each sport has its own challenges. Those with little or no contact will be easier to navigate than sports such as football or wrestling.
It will take cooperation from everyone on the team to follow these guidelines, including keeping children home when they’re sick.
If a player on a youth sports team tests positive for the coronavirus, others who have had contact with that player should self-quarantine. If that player competed against another team, that contact list will get much bigger, faster.