Back-to-Sports FAQs

How can athletes safely engage in team sports?

How and how often should my athlete’s equipment/gear/jerseys be cleaned?

What is a safe routine at home for after practice/games? What should we do to store shoes and sports gear?

What are the best water bottle practices?

Can my child carpool with their friend to a game?

Can I stay and watch my child at practice or a game?

What is the risk of getting COVID-19 per sport? 

Is there any concern about the coronavirus and turf fields? 

How can we integrate physical activity into virtual learning days?

 


Back to Sports FAQs - Team Sports

How can athletes safely engage in team sports?

EXPERT: Nicholas Slenker, MD, Coordinated Health

Information regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) is changing rapidly, both nationally and in our community. While we must be ready for the possibility of a resurgence, a safe plan to return to sport has been put into place as COVID-19 cases remain at a stable or downward trajectory.

Athletic participation, particularly for our youth, is a critical health and wellness issue. While it is not possible to eliminate all risk of infection or furthering the spread of COVID-19, the current science suggests there are many steps we can take to reduce the risk to athletes, coaches and their families.

Here are some key recommendations

  1. Anyone who is sick must stay home.
  2. Hand hygiene is essential. Ample use of hand sanitizer (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol) is key, as access to soap and water will be limited on most fields of play. Every athlete should always have a bottle of hand sanitizer easily accessible in their sports gear.
  3. Limit exposure to COVID-19. Tactics include frequent hand washing, coughing into your elbow, disinfecting all touched surfaces, social distancing, avoid touching eyes, nose, face and mouth, no spitting, gum chewing, etc.
  4. Social distance as much as possible. No team huddles should take place. No handshakes or fist bumps should take place. Stay 6 feet apart as often as possible (in the dugout, on the bench, during instruction).
  5. Face masks are key. Coaches, officials, referees, umpires and all staff should wear masks or face coverings. Athletes should wear masks or face coverings while not exerting themselves (in the dugout, on the bench, during instruction).

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Back to Sports FAQs - Cleaning Equipment and Jerseys

How and how often should my athlete’s equipment/gear/jerseys be cleaned?

EXPERT: Nicholas Slenker, MD, Coordinated Health

Our current recommendation is that any and all equipment that does not absolutely need to be shared should be brought to the practice by the individual athlete, stored in an area at least 6 feet distant from others and then taken home by that individual.

Jerseys/clothing: Any jerseys or clothing used during the activity should be washed daily and shouldn’t be shared with other players during the workout. A trip through the washing machine with regular detergent will be fine to disinfect any clothing items.

Sports equipment: Any equipment used during activities should be disinfected with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified products between each use. Equipment with smooth, or non-fabric surfaces, can be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. And fabric, or “non-smooth” items (shoes, cleats, pads, etc.), can be cleaned with a disinfectant spray such as Lysol.

Tip: Any balls that must be shared (basketball, baseball, soccer ball, etc.) should be disinfected as much as feasible during the activity.

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Back to Sports FAQs - Safe Routines

What is a safe routine at home for after practice/games? What should we do to store shoes and sports gear?

EXPERT: Nicholas Slenker, MD, Coordinated Health

While we are still learning about aspects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we must treat it with caution.  All the equipment that the athlete needs should be taken to practice, handled only by that athlete and then brought home each day. The use of locker rooms is currently not recommended (i.e. show up ready to play and no showers afterwards).

Your athlete will likely be coming home ready to shower and with a collection of dirty gear. While this equipment does not need to be handled as a “hazmat,” it might be best to keep these items confined in a designated area out of the way (garage, mud room, basement). Any high-touch sports equipment (sticks, pads, head gear, mouth gear) should be disinfected after every practice. A disinfectant spray on shoes, pads, and gear would be effective, along with washing clothing after every practice.

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Back to Sports FAQs - Water Bottle safety

What are the best water bottle practices?

EXPERT: Nicholas Slenker, MD, Coordinated Health

Water coolers and hydration stations will NOT be made available at practice, as per Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), and Pennsylvania Governor’s office guidelines. All individual athletes will be responsible to bring their own water bottles, which should be clearly marked with their name. DO NOT SHARE WATER BOTTLES DURING PRACTICE. As we all know, proper hydration is a critical component of healthy sports participation.

Tip: Send more water than you think. Gallon jugs marked with the athlete’s name in permanent marker can be an easy solution to make sure your athlete has access to safe water.

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Back to Sports FAQs - Carpooling

Can my child carpool with their friend to a game?

EXPERT: Nicholas Slenker, MD, Coordinated Health

Carpools can be an important transportation option for families as kids head back to sport. Here are a few recommendations to optimize safety while carpooling:

  1. Mask up while in the car.
  2. Keep a consistent carpool group to minimize potential exposures.
  3. Seat passengers as far apart as the vehicle will allow.
  4. Roll the windows down (weather permitting) to keep fresh air circulating through the car.

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Back to School Sports

Can I stay and watch my child at practice or a game?

EXPERT: Nicholas Slenker, MD, Coordinated Health

Spectators are not recommended at any workouts or practices. Parents or caregivers should remain in their cars during this time. No congregating should be allowed in the parking lot or fields. A drop-off line for practices is recommended to avoid unnecessary exposure. During competitions, spectators should practice social distancing as permissible and spectators should wear masks or face covering. There is no specified limit on the number of spectators, but organizations and schools may put limits based on other factors (i.e. gym size) to promote social distancing.

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Back to School Sports

What is the risk of getting COVID-19 per sport?

EXPERT: Gabriel Lewullis, MD, LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

High-risk sports involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.

High-risk sports

  • Cheerleading
  • Dance team
  • Football
  • Lacrosse (boys)
  • Wrestling

Moderate-risk sports

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Field hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Lacrosse (girls)
  • Ice hockey
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming (relays)
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field – certain events (high jump)
  • Volleyball
  • 7 on 7 football

Low-risk sports

  • Cross country (with staggered starts)
  • Diving
  • Golf
  • Running (individual events)
  • Sideline cheer
  • Swimming (individual events)
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field – certain events (shot put)
  • Weightlifting

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Back to Sports FAQs - Turf and COVID-19

Is there any concern about the coronavirus and turf fields?

Expert: Gabriel Lewullis, MD, LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is mainly from person-to-person contact, especially when in close contact of less than 6 feet. The spread most often occurs through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks.

It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and touching his or her own face, mouth, eyes or nose, however, this is not the primary way that COVID-19 is spread.

Studies involving COVID-19 are new and ongoing. Early studies regarding the life of the virus on various surfaces have been performed and show that the virus can last about three days on a plastic surface or stainless-steel surface. The clinical significance of this is still unknown and it is unclear how this may affect turf fields. While the data is not yet available, the most important things to remember are to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face while playing on a turf field.

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Back to Sports FAQs - Physical Activity and Virtual Learning

How can we integrate physical activity into virtual learning days?

EXPERT: Nicholas Slenker, MD, Coordinated Health

Physical activity is critical for both our mental and physical well-being. Now, more than ever, exercise is essential to help cope with the many changes and new stresses we are facing. We recommend that kids get 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. Unfortunately, virtual learning schedules keep us more confined and sedentary than our usual routine. It is critical that a time is prioritized during the day to get away from the screen, get outside and move around.

Exercise comes in many forms: a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood, a family competition or physical challenge, a hike at a local park. Borrow equipment to try out a new sport and find something fun that your child seems to engage with.

Family involvement is an important part of establishing these habits. Our children emulate what they see from us. While it may be difficult to find time for this after a long day at work, it is absolutely critical for our children’s well-being.

Tip: One great resource for different ideas about keeping kids active is the NFL Play 60 initiative with the American Heart Association. They have a great website with plenty of family activities and tips on how to get moving.

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