The Museum School of Avondale Estates Athletics: Proposal for Return to Play

 

OVERVIEW:

The Museum School of Avondale Estates (TMS) Athletics Department has developed an optimal approach to delivering a middle school athletics program (grades 5-8) under various return to school and play scenarios, in relation to the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19. These protocols are presented with the intent of offering programs that are carried out in a safe and healthy manner, and within the guidelines of international, federal, state, and local authorities. These efforts should be considered in light of the various scenarios under consideration as we plan for the 2021/22 school fall/spring term. These guidelines are for the protection of all athletes, coaches, and Athletic Department staff in accordance with the National Federation of State High School Associations guidelines, CDC, GHSA, MAAC, and TMS Health and Safety Taskforce guidelines/policies. These guidelines are subject to change over time as we learn more about COVID 19. These guidelines are to cover all aspects of athletics, health/safety of student-athletes, coaches, parents, and athlete education, transportation, etc.

 

The TMS offerings for fall of 2021 are Boys Soccer, Cross Country, Ultimate Frisbee, and Girls Volleyball.  TMS will host practices on school property for volleyball, cross country, and ultimate, but boys soccer practices and home matches are hosted at Midway Park, with away matches being hosted by other MAAC schools. Volleyball matches will be played at the International Sports Arena at 5639 Memorial Dr, Stone Mountain, GA 30083

 

GOAL:

Ensure that TMS students, coaches, and parents are able to benefit from various athletic experiences in a safe, reliable, and functional manner, with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, and various healthy agencies recommendations. 

 

School-sponsored sports and extracurricular activities provide students with enrichment opportunities that can help them learn and achieve, and support their social, emotional, and mental health. People who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, including while participating in sports and extracurricular activities. People who are fully vaccinated can also refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic, facilitating continued participation in in-person learning, sports, and extracurricular activities. Due to increased exhalation that occurs during physical activity, some sports can put players, coaches, trainers, and others who are not fully vaccinated at increased risk for getting and spreading COVID-19. Close contact sports and indoor sports are particularly risky. Similar risks might exist for other extracurricular activities, such as band, choir, theater, and school clubs that meet indoors.

 

Prevention strategies for those who are not fully vaccinated in these activities remain important and should comply with school day policies and procedures. Students should refrain from these activities when they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and should be tested. Students who are not fully vaccinated and participate in indoor sports and other higher-risk activities should continue to wear masks and keep physical distance as much as possible. Schools should consider using screening testing (Table 1) for student athletes and adults (e.g., coaches, teachers, advisors) who are not fully vaccinated who participate in and support these activities to facilitate safe participation and reduce risk of transmission – and avoid jeopardizing in-person education due to outbreaks.

 

Coaches and school sports administrators should also consider specific sport-related risks for people who are not fully vaccinated:

  • Setting of the sporting event or activity. In general, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower when playing outdoors than in indoor settings. Consider the ability to keep physical distancing in various settings at the sporting event (i.e., fields, benches/team areas, locker rooms, spectator viewing areas, spectator facilities/restrooms, etc.).

  • Physical closeness. Spread of COVID-19 is more likely to occur in sports that require sustained close contact (such as wrestling, hockey, football).

  • Number of people. Risk of spread of COVID-19 increases with increasing numbers of athletes, spectators, teachers, and staff.

  • Level of intensity of activity. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases with the intensity of the sport.

  • Duration of time. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases the more time athletes, coaches, teachers, staff and spectators spend in close proximity or in indoor group settings. This includes time spent traveling to/from sporting events, meetings, meals, and other settings related to the event.

  • Presence of people more likely to develop severe illness. People at increased risk of severe illness might need to take extra precautions.

 

The following guidelines have been created to allow students, coaches, and parents to participate in TMS sports. 

 

Parents and Transportation Guidelines:

  • Parents, guardians, or caregivers must register their student athlete for TMS fall sports. With that registration, each parents, guardians, or caregivers must sign the COVID regulations page and the COVID agreement page of the registration. NO EXCEPTIONS will be made, and a student athlete cannot participate if this is not completed by the first practice session. 

  • Each student athlete is permitted one parent or guardian to attend any practices/matches/meets. The parent or guardian must be masked at all times and must remain at least 6ft away from all players, coaches, and officials

    • Exceptions will be made for additional children that need to be in attendance, but these children must be masked and remain at least 6ft apart from players, coaches, and officials.

  • Limited spectators are allowed on the field or track before, during, or after practices/matches/meets.

  • Spectators are not allowed to leave competition and return to competition.

  • If parents, guardians, or caregivers, by necessity, need to transport additional TMS students, masks should be worn in the vehicle at all times be all occupants. 

  • If TMS is providing transportation (this will only happen to the Track and Field Championships), TMS will ensure social distancing, appropriate spacing, and vehicle cleanliness. 


 

MAAC and DHYL Guidelines:

All MAAC and DHYL (Baseball) participants will agree to guidelines that will provide the safest environment for all student athletes, coaches, officials, parents/guardians/caregivers, and school/athletics staff. If any representative of TMS (student athletes, coaches, parents/guardians/caregivers, and school/athletics staff) does not abide by the provisions set above then TMS Athletics Coordinator, MAAC Director, or DHYL Director reserve the right to remove TMS from the schedule for future games/matches/meets.