A major concern of parents during the ongoing pandemic is if their children are safe to participate in organized sporting activities in their schools. Knowing the rules and guidelines to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic will help in preventing the spread of the disease in schools and other public places. You might also want to know the percentage of people infected by the virus in your state before sending your children back to school.
In this article we’ll be discussing all you need to know about school sports during the pandemic and how your kids can play safely without too much risk of contracting the deadly disease.
Risk factors associated with sporting activities in schools
- Nature of the sporting activity: Non-contact sports are activities that don’t involve physical contact. They include tennis, swimming, archery, badminton and motor racing to list a few. The fact that these sports can be performed without coming in contact with your opponent means that they’re typically safer than sports like football and basketball which involve active contact between participants.
- Do participants use masks?: By now it is common knowledge that wearing face masks reduces the spread of the virus. Using masks is especially important in sports where the coaches and players interact by talking. Fans are not exempted either because their singing and chanting emits droplets which transmit the virus. It should be made compulsory that every athlete participates with their mask on except in sports where using one might cause more harm than good such as ones that involve a lot of running and movement.
- Is traveling involved in the sport?: For children that participate in sports, it will be safer for them if they only play in their communities. Consistent traveling and interaction with teams from another region will increase the likelihood of infection because there is an increased chance of coming in contact with new people who might harbor the virus. Traveling also means the body is exposed to new pathogens which could cause diseases and this will in turn weaken the immune system thereby making it easier to be infected.
- Amount of participating players: A larger team will mean higher chances of being infected. During the pandemic schools are advised to reduce the amount of athletes that participate in different sports. For example in a football team which typically consists of about 23 players, the team should be cut down to about 16. This also makes it easier to track players if a breakout of the disease occurs, as there are fewer people involved so contact tracing is made easier.
- Are the sporting activities an outdoor or indoor event?: The area where a school athlete trains, warms up or plays has a direct reflection on the spread of the pandemic. Participating indoors means there is a higher chance of the virus spreading because there isn’t enough ventilation. This means that organizers of events should look to make activities outdoor as much as possible.
- Amount of time athletes spend amongst one another: The longer people stay together in a particular place, the higher the possibility of them contracting the virus. The duration of sporting activities could be reduced during this period of time to better help in the fight against this pandemic. For example, in a game of soccer which typically lasts 90 minutes, the time could be shortened to 60 minutes to reduce the amount of time athletes have to interact with each other in a confined space.
Depending on the rules that guide your state or community, school sports might be ready to come back and they also might not. If sporting activities have resumed in your region then it is highly advised that you take your child for a COVID-19 test in any of the urgent care centers around before allowing them return back to school. Those that have also reached the age of receiving vaccines should also have them administered to further protect them during the ongoing pandemic.