As your school partner, Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital is ready to help you and your kids have a healthy school year.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.