Dear MDSA Families,
I want to clarify MDSA’s position on training in light of the most recent health order imposed by Contra Costa County.
On Friday, following the announcement of the health order effective 12/6, the City of Concord, who in conjunction with Contra Costa Health approve our COVID safety protocols and phase of return to play in order to issue permits, confirmed our permits were still in effect with the strict implementation of our current protocols. They indicated that this may change if conditions deteriorate further, but at the time of writing they are not requiring any modifications or further restrictions.
MDSA’s Return to Play Phases and COVID protocols are compliant with the current CDC Guidelines for Youth Sports, and Phase 2A meets the CDC’s second step of increasing risk, above only individual practice at home.
Why are we permitted to play under the Stay-at-Home Order?
MDSA training programs are a sanctioned activity under the child extracurricular activities section of the health order when approved COVID protocols and Phase 2A restrictions are applied.
Why are we not moving back a phase despite the County’s regression through the California COVID tiers?
The implementation of a phased return to play is designed to verify there is no increase in transmission during each step of the plan. To date, there have been ZERO cases of COVID transmission within MDSA since our return to the fields in June, with nearly 600 children participating in the Elite, Fall and Winter Academy Programs. The city, in consultation with the county, are satisfied that our Phase 2A protocols do not pose any increased risk despite the increasing positivity numbers within our community. If this position changes, that will be communicated to us and we will adjust as necessary.
This position is backed by increasing evidence from studies in the US and other countries that show outdoor youth sports, with health screenings, social distancing, no-to-minimal contact, and fixed cohorts, pose a low risk of transmission for participants.*
Why is MDSA allowing practices to continue?
Alongside the evidence of low transmission risk with our current protocols is the need to balance the mental, physical and emotional health of the children in our program with the danger of COVID transmission in our community. For many of the children who are fully distance learning, soccer practice remains the only time for them to engage in in-person interaction with their peers. The COVID-19 in Youth Soccer Study by University of Wisconsin observed that, “isolation and physical inactivity during COVID-19 restrictions may represent a significant threat to overall health in children”, noting an increase in rates of depression among youth and a 50% drop in rates of physical activity.*
Bearing all of this information in mind, and in conjunction with our neighboring AYSO regions, we have made the decision to keep fields open while permitted for those teams who wish to continue to hold sessions and reinforce the safety protocols to which every family and volunteer has agreed. Enabling families to be able to choose to participate in a safe outlet for their children is our only motivation. Our volunteers have devoted countless hours since March to make this possible.
The key to this position is to give every MDSA volunteer and family the OPTION to choose what is best for their team, player and family. Children have lost the control of so many aspects of their lives through the past year; the importance of giving them the option to choose whether or not to participate given their personal circumstances cannot be underestimated.
Coaches should communicate with their team families regarding their position – we are aware that some of our volunteer coaches are not in a position to run sessions at this time and MDSA is fully supportive of their decision. Coaches are in control of the format of their sessions within the current approved protocols and may also elect to impose stricter restrictions than are permitted by the league as a whole; this is a discussion that will be had at the team level. The MDSA Safety Committee and Competitive Program Committee are always available to discuss training options and safety protocols.
We appreciate and give our entire support to families for whom it is not feasible or recommended to participate, or who choose not to attend for any reason. Spaces will remain open for all players not currently participating, and teams look forward to welcoming players back whenever they are comfortable to return.
COVID PROTOCOLS REMINDERS
Each family signed a waiver and acknowledgement when returning to the program this Fall, confirming your agreement to abide by our COVID protocols and Health & Safety Guidelines, which include and are not limited to:
Health screening before each practice (players are not to attend if displaying any symptoms, that have a temperature of 100.4 or greater, or are awaiting results of a COVID test);
Only participating in one extracurricular activity cohort for a fixed 3 week period;
Bringing their own equipment to every practice;
Cleaning and disinfection of personal equipment and clothing after every practice;
Maintain a distance of at least 6ft from anyone outside your household;
Players wear a mask/face covering before and immediately after practice, and may keep them on at all times; coaches wear a mask/face covering at all times;
Parents observe drop-off/pick-up protocols including staying in their vehicle unless absolutely necessary; no waiting at the fields during sessions;
Inform the Team Coach and Safety Committee (email@example.com) immediately upon a positive test for the player, a household member or a person with whom the player has had close contact, or if the player is displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19.
For full COVID protocols, please see the COVID-19 section on our website.
While we are optimistic that with teams adhering to our protocols we will be able to continue to run training sessions, families should be aware that this can change at any time. Breaches will not be tolerated and put the entire program at risk. If the City of Concord or Contra Costa Health decide the risk has increased beyond an acceptable level, they can request modifications or revoke permits with no advance notice. Please continue to monitor your email for updates from your team coach and MDSA.
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) at any time.
As always, on behalf of the MDSA Board and myself, I would like to thank you all for your continued support of the program, and wish you a safe and happy holiday season.
COVID-19 in Youth Soccer Summary, University of Wisconsin
Scientific Studies of Youth Soccer Show Low (or No) Risk to Players, Sports Destination Management, 10/08/20
Surf Cup Sports’ Study Shows Low Risk of COVID-19 Transmission in Youth Soccer, Soccer Today, 08/08/20