Returning to Play Guidelines

This updated version of COVID-19 guidance for AYSO/AYSO United programs is done in accordance with the CDC’s recommended practices for programs that work with children and adults in the K-12 age-group environment to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and maintain safe operations.

This CDC/AYSO guidance is meant to supplement—not replace—any federal, state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which youth sports programs must comply. The adoption and implementation of this guidance should be done in collaboration with regulatory agencies and state, local, territorial, and tribal public health departments, your playing venues and in compliance with state and local policies and practices.

AYSO encourages Region/Clubs to follow the CDC guidance while understanding that Region/Clubs need to do what is best for the community. Regions/Clubs can institute stricter guidelines and mandates than below based on the mandates of your local and state health departments. We cannot stress the importance of communicating your Region/Club guidance to all your members on a consistent basis. We have provided templates and links to resources to assist you in messaging on and off the field.  Your safety and the safety of all our members is of the utmost importance anhttps://www.aysovolunteers.org/media-toolkit/d we will continue to monitor all public health guidelines as they are updated to ensure you are informed of the latest changes.

Summary of Key Prevention Strategies

  • Players and volunteers alike, benefit from the physical and social aspects of soccer and it is our priority to safely return to playing this Fall for all our members.
  • Many of members are children under the age of 12, who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect players, volunteers, visitors and other members of their households that support their AYSO experience.
  • To that point, the combination of the CDC’s recommended best practices for programs that operate in the K-12 space, will help create an effective strategy to keep all our members protected.
    • Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to protect you from COVID-19. Vaccination can help programs safely return to sport activities and is strongly recommended for all eligible AYSO members. If you remain unvaccinated, it is imperative that the additional preventive strategies outlined below are combined to provide protection for both the individual and program participants they come in contact with.
    • Masking is strongly recommended in all indoor settings for those over 2 years of age. Outdoor masking is not required, but if you are unvaccinated, it is recommended in highly crowded outdoor spaces where spacing isn’t possible or if you are immunocompromised. Children and referees in play may wear a mask if so desired or as required by a local mandate.
    • For all indoor and certain outdoor settings, the CDC recommends spectators and players on the sideline maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between people not in your household to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as masking, respiratory etiquette, handwashing and/or no sharing of personal items (i.e.: water bottles, food, seating, etc.).
    • In conjunction with the above, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, and cleaning and disinfection of all equipment are also important layers of prevention to keep our participants safe.
  • Players, volunteers and staff should stay home when they have signs or their immediate family members have any signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
  • If any player or volunteer tests positive, it is imperative that the Region/Club point person is informed immediately to implement quarantine and contact tracing protocols to help reduce the spread.
  • Programs should stay in contact with their local public health departments that monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to help guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing) for their specific programs.

This guidance is based on current scientific evidence and lessons learned from youth-based programs implementing COVID-19 prevention strategies.

Below is a more robust explanation of the CDC’s Recommended Best Strategies to help protect and prevent transmission of COVID-19 for all participants.

Vaccination

Vaccination

When you are fully vaccinated, you can start to engage in activities you once did, albeit with a few additional protection strategies. Vaccines will help us move closer to mitigating the pandemic, but if you are not fully vaccinated, you still need to use all the tools we have available to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Vaccination adds an important layer of protection for you, your family, and your loved ones. Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough, and no one tool alone is going to stop the pandemic. The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection against COVID-19.

While experts learn more about how COVID-19 vaccination may help reduce spread of the disease in communities, it is important for everyone to continue to follow CDC’s recommendations. CDC will continue to update these recommendations using the latest science to protect communities.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, visit the CDC’s FAQs webpage.

Wear A Mask

Wear a mask

If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.

In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings. In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. Children and referees in play may wear a mask if so desired or as required by a local mandate.

People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.

If you are carpooling with others from outside your household, we recommend you follow the CDC’s Order on public transportation, which requires all passengers and drivers to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here.

Physical Distancing

Physical Distancing

If possible, it is recommended that you put 6-feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household. We know this is challenging on the sidelines, but we encourage spectators to not mix households in sitting areas. For players on the sidelines, we recommend placing spacers if possible to designate where players can sit during the game.

Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

People should practice handwashing and respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes) to keep from getting and spreading infectious illnesses including COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • It’s especially important to wash your hands:
    • Before and after practice and games
    • After handling soccer equipment
    • After using the restroom
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After handling your mask
    • Before eating
    • Before touching your face

If you are wearing a mask: You can  cough or sneeze into your mask. Put on a new, clean mask as soon as possible and wash your hands.

If you are not wearing a mask: Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Throw used tissues in the trash.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

 

Clean and Disinfect

Clean and disinfect

Clean and disinfect all equipment after practice and games, this includes, balls, cones, pinnies, ladders, etc. Use a household disinfectant product from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for COVID-19
 according to manufacturer’s labeled directions.

If surfaces are dirty, clean them using soap and water prior to disinfection.

Monitor Your Health Daily

Monitor your health daily

Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. We recommend that you use the daily screening questions to self-check before going to practice and/or games.

Players and volunteers who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care, regardless of vaccination status. If any family members of players and volunteers show symptoms, then the players and/or volunteers in their household should stay home as well as a precaution.

Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

Staying home when sick with COVID-19 is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of our AYSO programs and prevent spread to others.

 

Overall – Standard Practice

  • Healthy Participants Only: Any players, coaches, spectators who are sick will not be allowed at practices or games.
  • Parents, family members, players and volunteers will abide by local and venue specific social distancing regulations.
  • It is vitally important that the appointed COVID-19 point person is alerted immediately upon notice that someone has become ill to start the contract tracing and quarantine process. The Region should establish a relationship with their local Public Health Department, where applicable, to assist with the reporting protocol.

Recommendations Upon Return-to-Practice/Play

Region/Club

Region/Club:

  • Work with public health officials to notify adult leaders, youth and their families if the organization becomes aware of a participant developing COVID-19 who came in contact with others during your activities. Please click here for recommended reporting protocol.
  • Maintain participant confidentiality regarding health status.
  • Sanction practices only when official parks and fields become available by local authority.
  • Provide coaches with a detailed explanation and training on these recommendations.
  • Face masks recommended for coaches and volunteers if they are unvaccinated or in indoor training facilities.
  • Schedule practices with ample space for physical distancing if necessary.
  • Adhere to AYSO Safe Haven guidelines, i.e., 1:8 adult to child ratio; minimum of 2 adults present; no adult alone with children other than their own. Whenever possible, adult of same gender as players should be present.
  • If necessary, support coaches with fitness and technique in isolation exercises, grid work and spatial awareness (suggested content can be found here).
  • If necessary, provide physical guides, such as signs and tape on playing fields, to help coaches and players remain at least 6 feet apart. You can find print ready signs here.
  • Keep the same groups. Organize and schedule groups of players, i.e., by age or teams, and keep them consistent to avoid transmission.
  • Be sensitive and accommodating to parents who may be uncomfortable with returning to play at this time.
  • Avoid group events, such as games, competitions, or social gatherings, where spacing of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained, unless allowed by your local jurisdictions.
  • If directed by your local jurisdictions, limit nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible – especially with individuals not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Avoid activities and events such as off-site competitions or excursions, unless allowed by your local jurisdictions.
  • Communicate drop off, waiting and pick up protocols for parents to facilitate appropriate social distancing while providing for the safety of all participants.
  • Create a communication plan for Region/Club to members and a communication pathway for parents to communicate their concerns or questions with Region/Club leadership (i.e.: BAND app).
Coach

Coach*:

  • Coaches will send pre-training communication to families ensuring that only healthy participants attend and reiterate expectations and guidelines.
  • Coaches should maintain physical distancing requirements from players and family members.
  • If unvaccinated, wearing a face mask is recommended for the duration of the practice. If vaccinated, it is recommended to wear a mask in crowded spaces. If practice is indoors, it is recommended that masks are worn by all. 
  • If necessary, utilize technique in isolation exercises, grid work, fitness and spatial awareness to limit physical contact between players (suggested content can be found here).
  • Adhere to AYSO Safe Haven guidelines, i.e., 1:8 adult to child ratio; minimum of 2 adults present; no adult alone with children other than their own. Whenever possible, adult of same gender as players should be present.
  • Ensure all players have and handle their own labeled equipment (ball, water bottle, training disks, etc.).
  • Coach should be the only person to handle coaching equipment (e.g.: cones, disks, etc.); do not let parents or attendees assist.
  • Hand sanitizer or hand-washing on arrival / mid-way and end of training session.
  • No shared equipment in use (players will be provided with individual bibs/pinnies or can bring game jerseys as requested).
  • No physical greeting of players (verbal acknowledgement is expected).
  • Stay positive and create a fun environment in this new normal.
  • Serve as focal point, or designate the Team Parent/Manager/Safety Director/CVPA, for notification from team families if a family member becomes ill with COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or comes in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Complete and submit AYSO’s Incident Report Form to the Region Safety Director immediately, including team roster.

*A designated volunteer or team parent can be added to help assist coach in accordance with the same health and safety guidance designated for the coach.

Team Parent

 Team Parent:

  • Assist Coach, as requested, with communications to families (including safeguard reminders, i.e., only healthy participants attend activities).
  • As needed and if required, can be a candidate to serve as focal point for notification from team families if a family member becomes ill with COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or comes in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Notify the Coach immediately.
  • Maintain physical distancing requirements from coach, players and family members.
  • If unvaccinated, wearing a face mask is recommended for the duration of the practice. If vaccinated, it is recommended to wear a mask in crowded spaces. If practice is indoors, it is recommended that masks are worn by all.
  • Support identified guidelines for coaches.
  • Assist with hand sanitizer or other safety precautions like hand-washing on arrival / mid-way and end of training session in support of the coach.
  • Help team/teams adhere to AYSO Safe Haven supervision guidelines.
Officials

Officials:

At all times:

  • Stay at least 6 feet from anyone as much as possible.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Spitting or rinsing the mouth with water is to be avoided.
  • Cough into elbow.
  • Stay home if not feeling well and communicate to the Referee Administrator.

Pre-game:

  • Prior to arrival, wash hands with soap or alcohol-based solution for at least 20 seconds.
  • Arrival in full uniform is recommended.
  • Maintain 6 feet distance from players, coaches, spectators and referee team for all administrative procedures.
  • Mask is recommended for pre-game duties.
  • No handshakes with coaches, players, or spectators.
  • Coin toss options:
  1. Modified. One player from each team; center official; no handshakes; physical distancing.
    b. No coin toss.  Home team selects the half of the field. Away team will take kick-off.

During play:

  • Masks are not required for center referees during active play, unless required by your local jurisdictions.
  • Assistant referees if unvaccinated, wearing a breathable face mask is recommended for the duration of the game. If vaccinated, it is recommended to wear a mask in crowded spaces. If games are indoors, it is recommended that masks are worn by all, unless wearing a mask causes breathing problems.
  • Referees are recommended to stay a minimum of 6 feet away from players, coaches, spectators, and the referee team during dynamic play and stationary play at all times.
  • Avoid spitting.
  • Cough into your elbow.
  • Do not share whistles or, if possible, any other referee equipment.
  • If not feeling well during the game at any time, go home immediately.
  • Keep the game flowing to limit groups of players congregating, i.e., set plays.

Post-game:

  • After the game, applaud the players and coaches, but handshakes are not permitted; fist bumps/elbow bumps are not recommended.
  • If shared, wipe down the handles of flags with an alcohol-based rub or wash with soap and water.
  • Upon completion of the match, wash hands with soap or alcohol-based solution for at least 20 seconds.
Parents

Parents

  • Ensure your child is healthy. Please go through health screening questions before each practice and game. Test child’s temperature before departing for soccer practice (if above 100.4, do not attend).
  • Notify your team/club immediately if your child or family member becomes ill for any reason.
  • Drop off and pick up players with special care given to the presence of children coming to and from the activity and receive verbal acknowledgement from the coach each time.
  • Please follow all drop-off procedures established by your Region/Club, based on state and local health requirements and as requested by your coach or AYSO officials.
  • Limit the use of carpools or van pools, and limit passengers to household members.
  • If unvaccinated, face masks are recommended. If vaccinated, it is recommended to wear a mask in crowded outdoor spaces. If games are indoors, it is recommended that masks are worn by all.
  • Wash your child’s clothing after every training/activity (recommendation).
  • Sanitize all equipment (ball, cleats, shin guards, etc.) before and after every practice.
  • Clearly label your child’s water bottle and personal items.
  • Ensure your child has hand sanitizing products with them at every session.
  • Do not assist coach with equipment before or after training.
  • Check Region/Club and Coach communication regularly.
Players

Players

  • Inform parent if feeling unwell.
  • Wash hands before and after training.
  • Responsible for cleaning all required equipment after each training sessions (ball, cleats, shin guards, etc.).
  • If directed by your local jurisdiction, please wear a face mask to practice/games.
  • Face mask may be required during play, this will be determined by your local jurisdiction.
  • Bring and use your own labeled hand sanitizer at every session.
  • Do not touch or share anyone else’s equipment.
  • Practice physical distancing, place bags and equipment at least 6 feet apart.
  • No sharing drinks or use of water fountains at facility (players should mark their own water bottles).
  • No physical greetings with their teammates (verbal acknowledgement is expected, we are physical distancing not social).

 

At home screening questions

  • Have you experienced a fever of 100.4 or greater in the past 14 days?
    • NO? Continue to next question
    • YES! STAY HOME and seek medical care and testing.
  • Have you received a positive result from a COVID-19 test within the last 14 days?
    • NO? Continue to next question
    • YES! STAY HOME and seek medical care and testing.
  • Have you been in contact with anyone while they had COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
    • NO? Continue to next question
    • YES! STAY HOME and seek medical care and testing.
  • In the past 14 days, have you, or someone you have been in contact with, traveled outside your state / province / country or to an area with restrictions due to COVID-19?
    • NO? Continue to next question
    • YES! STAY HOME and seek medical care and testing.
  • In the past 14 days, have you experienced any of the following new symptoms not attributed to another health condition? Select all that
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath / trouble breathing
    • Night Sweats
    • Sore Throat
    • Muscle / body aches
    • Loss of Taste or Smell
    • Headache
    • Congestion or Runny Nose
    • Nausea or Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
  • NO? Continue to the filed!
  • YES! STAY HOME and seek medical care and testing.

 

PLEASE NOTE: This is a live document and is subject to change. As state and local restrictions and guidelines are adjusted in your area with regards to youth sports, AYSO will communicate how to progress. PLEASE continue to check our microsite for updates.