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New youth sports guidelines issued by California during COVID-19 pandemic

Edison's Cole Koffler catches a long pass and runs the ball in for a touchdown against Carson on Aug. 29, 2019.
Edison’s Cole Koffler catches a long pass and runs the ball in for a touchdown against Carson during a nonleague game on Aug. 29, 2019.
(Drew A. Kelley)

The California Department of Public Health on Monday announced new guidelines for youth sports to resume during the coronavirus pandemic.

These guidelines will apply to all youth sports programs, whether they are school-based, club or recreational athletic programs.

Factors addressed in attempting to limit the spread of COVID-19 include the number of people and length of time at a location, physical distance and the shared use of equipment.

Sporting events that would likely result in gathering are not allowed at the present time. Competitions and tournaments would fall under that list.

As the start of the school year draws closer, a new portal on the Orange County Health Care Agency’s coronavirus website gets into granular detail on COVID-19’s impact on children, allowing deep dives not broken out for any other age group: cases by city, zip code, and school district, further divided into age subgroups.

Youth sports and physical education cannot be carried out without a separation of 6 feet between participants and a stable cohort must be in place that limits the risks of transmission of the disease.

To the maximum extent that it is practical, the athletic activities should be held in an outdoor location. Physical conditioning and training are not permitted indoors in counties where gyms cannot operate indoors.

The guidelines advise against the shared use of equipment, and if it must be shared, the equipment should be cleaned and disinfected between uses.

Masks are required for indoor workouts. Face coverings should be changed if they become wet, stick to an athlete’s face and obstruct breathing.

Orange County released a follow-up statement to the state’s guidelines, noting that all of the county’s youth sports and physical education classes must adhere to the state’s guidance regarding safety protocols.

Training of staff on how to operate within the suggested measures for the safety of all involved will be required of all youth sports organizations.

The CIF State office on July 20 made the decision to modify its sports calendar in advance of the upcoming 2020-21 school year, providing a way forward for all high school sports to potentially have a season and playoffs.

High school sports will be divided into two seasons, with the new fall schedule set to get underway in December.

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