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Springfield-Greene County Health Department releases guidance for playing winter sports

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 3:45 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Health department released guidance with tips to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during athletic events and organized activities.

The guidance at health.springfieldmo.gov/playsafely provides valuable information on how to safely engage in sports, especially as teams and organizations transition into the winter months and indoor play. It provides a breakdown of specific actions that can mitigate the spread among varying audiences. These include individualized tips for sports and physical activities, facilities that host sporting events, and other organized activities. There are also additional resources such as an outline of risk associated with contact sports, a breakdown of common myths surrounding COVID-19 and sports, and a full toolkit for the community to access.

The Fieldhouse in Springfield is home to youth sports leagues.

“The kids need this. The kids need activity on any level, especially now more than ever,” said Director of Operations Stacie Wells.

Wells said since the facility was allowed to reopen in June, even more teams are signing up to play. It reopened with new precautions to keep players, teams and spectators safe.

Indoor sports facilities in Springfield are still only allowed half of their normal capacities. Masks are required for anyone watching the game.”

Wells said her team is going beyond those requirements.

“We’re tried to make it where there’s certain entrances to get into the facility, separate exits so people aren’t crossing paths that way,” she said. “We’re sanitizing between the games. We have hand sanitizers that we’ve put up all around the facility.”

The water fountains are closed. So are the arcade games. Wells said the entire facility is cleaned daily with machines.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department released additional guidance for teams, coaches and facilities when it comes to indoor athletics.

“There is that high likelihood of transmission when you are in close proximity to other people and you’re exercising and you’re not wearing a mask,” said Kathryn Wall.

Wall said yelling can increase the spread of COVID-19, so coaches should remain masked during games. She said players on the bench should spread out.

“So maybe they’re not actively playing, they could go in at any point, but they can mask in between,” she said. “So it’s really about just rethinking that idea of what it means to be playing safely.”

Wall said players who have been exposed to COVID-19 in any other setting, even if both parties were masked, will still need to sit out from sports.

Wells said she’s seen more and more players have to quarantine since schools went back into session in August. She’s simply rescheduling games and asks parents to stay flexible.

“For the safety of our kids, we want to keep the kids playing. Any little thing we can do to make that happen,” Wells said.

Overall, athletes should continue to protect themselves by remembering the three w’s:

  • watch your distance by staying six feet away from others when at all possible,
  • wear a mask when not actively playing in a game and when around other people, and
  • wash your hands often or make sure hand sanitizer is accessible.

Additionally, teams and organizations should clean and disinfect equipment and surfaces often. They may also choose to consider virtual, no contact, skill-building drills and practices to reduce risk for spread.

The Health Department encourages organizers and athletes to reference health.springfieldmo.gov/playsafely as they make plans for games and events moving forward. There is information including advice for parents, risk assessments and guidance on what to do if a player tests positive.

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