The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a myriad of changes upon society and individuals, including children. How children learn, play, and interact as a whole has shifted from what was deemed normal to a new kind of normal. Participation in sports is an important part of many children’s development and as the pandemic continues, many parents are hesitant to allow their children to participate in school sports. The big issue of concern is safety. What will the rules look like to prevent the spread of COVID-19? Every parent should seek to make an informed decision about allowing his/her child to participate in sports at school during the pandemic.
School Sports a Go Despite COVID-19 Risks
In some states, school sports are open for recreation even though COVID-19 still presents risks. The pandemic presents real challenges for the continuity of school sports as before. Many school districts have implemented standard protocols, including social distancing requirements, capacity limits at athletics events, and masking and sanitization, all with the intent of limiting the spread of COVID-19. Some school sports activities are done on a truncated schedule, while some winter sports didn’t happen at all or were delayed.
Safe Participation in School Sports During COVID-19
Parents can safely manage school sports if they are able to evaluate risks, including equipment sanitation, social distancing, and contact tracing, among other precautionary measures. The reality is that there is an increased risk of spreading COVID-19 while participating in indoor sports or playing close-contact sports. Parents struggling to make a decision can do several things to help them make up their mind, including according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Assess the risk of spread in the particular sports, taking into consideration community level of COVID-19 cases, physical closeness of players, the intensity of sporting activity, sports event/activity setting, shared equipment, maintenance of physical distancing, player’s age, team size, and travel outside of your immediate community.
- Knowing the standard precautionary measures promoted by the school district to reduce the transmission of infection, such as physical distancing, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene, and the posting of signs and messages
- Be aware of strategies for maintaining healthy sports environments, such as cleaning and disinfection, and discouraging sharing of items.
- Knowing the protocol for when an athlete gets sick, like isolation and transportation, notifying health officials and close contacts, and contact tracing to help protect the larger community.
It’s not only important to protect your child but to also help protect the broader society as a whole. Before enrolling any child in camp, make sure that you get them tested for COVID-19 and always test if there are confirmed cases in your child’s league. Get informed before deciding to allow your child to participate in sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.