The California Department of Public Health on December 14th, 2020 issued guidelines for youth sports (pdf). Based on the information contained in the guidelines, California aims to reassess the return-to-competition by January 4th, with January 25th, as the earliest possible start date for inter-team competition. In addition to these key dates, the guidelines also cover a range of topics to assist in future planning, including Sports Risk Profiles that classify different sports by their level of contact and transmission risk, and a new four-tiered system to identify sports by the level of contact and risk.
Outdoor soccer is in the Moderate Tier (Orange) as an outdoor high-contact sport. Outdoor high-contact sports are defined as team sports with frequent or sustained close contact (and in many cases, face-to-face contact) between participants with a high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants. Indoor sports are a higher risk than outdoor sports due to reduced ventilation. Indoor soccer is in the fourth tier, which is the highest tier named the Minimal Tier (Yellow).
Lastly, the guidance includes information on important topics for youth sports organizations and teams to consider, including information on face coverings, physical distancing, hygiene, and sports equipment sanitization, cohorting, observers, indoor venues, and recommendations and guidance.
How this Impacts our Leagues and Clubs
Leagues and clubs, when deciding to return to play, must still abide by and ensure compliance with the directives established by the State of California, their local county and city health directives, mandates, and any other requirements.
The information provided by the California Department of Public Health is an important tool for organizations looking to return to play, but additional resources are available and should be considered when making decisions on the welfare and health of all participants - players, coaches, parents, and referees. The American Academy of Pediatrics have also provided comprehensive guidelines for youth sports. The Interim Guidance: Return to Sports (pdf) produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics details answers to frequently asked questions.
We’ve collected a variety of other useful information that is available in the Return to Play section of our website. We encourage you to explore the resources available to you. We are looking forward to the new year, and hope that we will be able to soon get our kids back on the grass doing the things they love.