California releases new guidelines for resuming youth sports

A big win Friday morning for student-athletes across California. The state announced loosened rules for youth sports to be played in the midst of the pandemic.
High School Football (FILE)
Posted at 10:54 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-20 03:09:30-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — A big win Friday morning for student-athletes across California. The state announced loosened rules for youth sports to be played in the midst of the pandemic.

State public health officials said counties where COVID-19 case rates are at or below 14 people per 100,000 will be able to resume outdoor sports. When it comes to contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling they can resume if all players 13 and older and coaches get tested once a week.

The state released the full guidelines Friday but they don't take effect until February 26th.

According to ABC10, 27 counties are currently eligible would have to hold on to their case rates at or below 14 people per 100,000 until next week. The biggest is Santa Clara county, which includes the city of San Jose. An additional 16 counties have case rates between 14 and 20 people per 100,000. Some counties that could be eligible in the Sacramento region include Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties.

Kern County does not currently meet the criteria.

The state broke down youth sports into three categories:

  • Low-Contact Sports: Individual or small group sports where contact within six feet of other participants can be avoided. Some of these sports have relatively low exertion rates that allow for consistent wearing of face coverings when within six feet of other people.
  • Moderate-Contact Sports: Team sports that can be played with only incidental or intermittent close contact between participants.
  • High-Contact Sports: Team sports with frequent or sustained close contact (and in many cases, face-to-face contact) between participants and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.

The new guidelines require all youth sports - indoor and outdoor - to follow these guidelines:

  • Face coverings to be worn when not participating in the activity (e.g., on the sidelines).
  • Face coverings to be worn by coaches, support staff and observers at all times, and in compliance with the CDPH Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings.
  • Observers maintain at least 6 feet from non-household members.
  • No sharing of drink bottles and other personal items and equipment.
  • Mixing with other households prior to and post any practice or competition must strictly adhere to current gathering guidance.
  • Limit indoor sports activities (practice, conditioning) to comply with capacity limits (which shall include all athletes, coaches, and observers) indicated in current CDPH Gym & Fitness Center Guidance Capacity.
  • Associated indoor activities for the team (e.g., dinners, film study) are prohibited if engaged in competition given evidence that transmission is more likely to occur in these indoor higher risk settings.
  • Teams must not participate in out-of-state games and tournaments; several multistate outbreaks have been reported around the nation, including California residents.

Additional guidelines include limiting fans to immediate household members, limiting inter-team competitions to those teams in the same or bordering counties, no tournaments involving more than two teams (exceptions are made for sports where individual competitors from multiple teams are routine such as: track and field; cross-country; golf; skiing/snowboarding; tennis; swimming/diving/surfing; biking and equestrian events), and limiting teams to just one competitive event per day.

Additional guidelines include face coverings, physical distancing, informed consent, testing, hygiene and equipment sanitation, limitations on mixing by participants, indoor venue capacity limitations, travel considerations, returning to sports after infection, and vaccination of eligible households.

This comes on the heels of the state senate announcing a proposed bill that would allocate $6.5 billion to school districts to allow them to open safely. The bill, known as the Safe and Open Schools plan incentivizes school districts to resume in-person learning by April 15th.

Governor Gavin Newsom said the proposal is a "step in the right direction -- it doesn't go far enough or fast enough."

The state assembly is set to vote on the bill Monday. If approved it would go to the governor's desk for his signature.