Return to Play – Keep Your Athletes Safe and Your Organization Protected from COVID
By: Natalie Cheng, Mike Gilbert
With news of a vaccine that purports 82% efficacy after the first dose, some communities are choosing to resume sports activities. Athletes, coaches, and spectators are eager to get back to the courts, fields, and stands. However, organizations need to keep some things in mind before rushing to start. How is your organization going to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic? What safety protocols help reduce the risk of an outbreak? If someone does test positive, are there procedures in place to handle the fallout? In order to operate, sports clubs and organizations must have a comprehensive plan in place to ensure safety. A primary component to that plan is self-screening. Here are some things to consider when screening for COVID:
1) Screen all groups for symptoms before entering a facility (for practices and events)
It’s a familiar scene happening across the world. Upon entering a school, businesses, or sports facility, people are stopped to get their temperatures checked. However, organizations should consider screening for other signs and symptoms as well since temperature checks alone don’t work for assessing COVID-19. The CDC, Junior Volleyball Association, and other associations recommend that parents screen their children/athletes prior to play in order to create a safe playing environment. In addition to that, we recommend that everyone entering the facility (ex. Staff, players, contract coaches, officials, parents, spectators, etc.) screen before they enter. The most effective solution to decreasing the spread of the virus is by keeping individuals at home if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. Screening beforehand will help decrease the spread of the virus. The CDC has guidelines on what to do if you are sick.
2) Protect the organization from liability and ensure that waivers are completed (if applicable)
In addition to comprehensive screening, organizations need to ensure that they have taken the necessary steps to protect themselves from legal action. They can do that by making sure that all athletes, coaches, and staff fill out the facilities’ liability wavers and have them on file in one central place. The PLAY Sports Coalition and National Council of Youth Sports recommended updating existing waiver/release agreements for minors and adults to add language releasing the youth sports organization from liability resulting from contracting illnesses such as COVID-19 at the organization’s events. The full Return to Play Considerations document can be viewed here. In addition, these waivers should be coupled with COVID screening records and managed on a platform to easily show that the organization has been screening everyone and verifying that only those that have screened green are able to play. This data will help defend the organization from any lawsuit or case that might come up due to someone contracting COVID-19.
3) Ensure that all documentation is digitized and organized in one place while maintaining HIPAA and ADA compliance
Not only should organizations keep records on file, but they must make sure that all information is organized in one place. Physical papers can be cumbersome, time consuming, and increase risk of exposure. There are various reasons why paper systems aren’t recommended:
- The information collected is considered Protected Health Information and storing this kind of information is a data breach risk.
- In order to collect this information, staff members need to come into contact with paper forms and individuals who might be infected with COVID.
- It creates extra work and time to screen to collect and verify this information prior to walking into the facility (think of staff and coaches out in front of a facility, regardless of the elements, collecting or screening each person).
- Recalling the information (assuming it was saved) is laborious and time consuming.
By digitizing information, organizations can quickly store, organize, and recall documents, saving time and energy for more important tasks. Organizations can also manage the information and update it easily for all athletes, coaches, spectators, etc.
Considering these three things and implementing a good solution will help your organization get back to tournaments quickly and safely. How is your organization protecting your team from COVID-19? Quickscreen by Luminare can help protect your team and reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you would like more information on this solution, please reach out to us. Stay safe!