Return to Play
This Framework for Developing COVID-19 Return to Play Protocols will help Divisions and clubs modify operations to align with public health measures in place across Canada. This is a high-level framework. Essentially, it tells you what you want to achieve, not how to achieve it. As the situation is drastically different across Canada, you may find that many or very few of these best practices apply to you. Vaccination status will also have an important impact on precautions.
You may use this framework to develop a return to play protocol that meets your organization’s needs and satisfies the directives that apply where you operate. Because some Divisions have created a framework specific to their province or territory, clubs should check with their Division before drafting a return to play protocol.
The framework is presented in sections. Because some sections apply to all circumstances, such as youth programming and competitions, please read all sections to determine what applies to your situation. This version is dated October 5, 2021 and may be updated. As requirements change, so too should your protocol.
Let’s work together as one Team Canada to safely return to the sport we love.
Framework for Developing a COVID-19 Return to Play Protocols
Does your protocol address each of the following directives and best practices?
- With respect to member organization activities, directives published by the Government of Canada, public health and other authorities applicable to the local jurisdiction are followed.
- Participants are properly registered according to the membership policy and all requirements under the Insurance Manual are followed.
- Everyone who will be part of the cross-country ski environment has the information and tools to continuously monitor their own health and respond appropriately.
- Participants have received a daily screening questionnaire (note: several jurisdictions have an online questionnaire).
- Participants know to leave immediately if there are signs of infection, and to contact public health if recommended.
- Everyone who will be part of the cross-country ski environment knows when and how to follow self-isolation directives.
- Participants know how and when to wash their hands or have access to sanitizer.
- Any individual who is at elevated risk for COVID-19 infection is supported where possible in taking further precautions to protect themselves, thus ensuring an inclusive and safe environment.
- If an individual is concerned about their risk level, they should consult with a medical professional. Information related to who may be at elevated risk for infection is available for reference.
- The Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool is available for reference.
Education on Sanitization
- The organization has communicated expectations and directives around hygiene, sanitation and physical distancing.
- Sanitation practices follow the Canadian Government guidelines for cleaning hard surfaces.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation supplies are available.
- Training on how to properly use these products is delivered and document (what, when, by whom).
Education on Health Practices
- The organization has consulted relevant health authorities to understand whether activities can be safely resumed and/or facilities opened.
- Staff and participants know how to recognize COVID-19 symptoms and know the steps to take if Training is delivered and documented (what, when, by whom).
- Staff and participants know how to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres between people at all times. If distancing is not ensured, they know how to wear a non-medical mask and/or facial covering.
- The organization is not taking unnecessary risks. Staff and participants will use common sense to avoid situations that involve undue risk, the potential need for emergency personnel to respond, or the potential that personal contact becomes necessary. This applies to all activities, including training sessions, camps, indoor and outdoor activities.
- Athletes and coaches will closely monitor athlete health. Best practices include, but are not limited to, updating and monitoring training logs with appropriate health benchmarks (e.g., Rusko, sleep monitoring, 1-10 health scale, energy levels, mental fatigue).
- Signage is placed outside the clubhouse and at entry gates outlining the COIVD-19 protocols in place.
- Signage is placed at the clubhouse and washroom facilities encouraging handwashing and respiratory hygiene.
- Provide hand sanitizer stations for participants in multiple locations.
- Local directives for the use of facilities (e.g., clubhouses, team and wax rooms, washrooms) are followed. In many jurisdictions, these facilities must remain closed or can re-open only with increased sanitation protocols and disinfection between uses.
- Special attention is paid to common and high traffic areas.
- Shared items and surfaces, such as counters, tables, credit card terminals, door handles, telephones and pens, are disinfected between uses.
- Cleaning frequency is documented in a log.
- Contactless payment options are used and cash payments are avoided.
- Only one person updates white boards, notice boards and weather boards.
- Participants are not permitted to congregate.
- Group sizes do not exceed local directives.
- Water fountains are disabled or covered.
- Picnic and other communal sitting areas are avoided or sanitized between uses.
- Trashcans are covered/ removed if recommended by the jurisdiction, and participants are instructed to take their garbage home.
- All club activities abide by local directives, including but not limited to AGMs, Board meetings, fundraisers, facility rentals and events and follow all current and applicable directives. Priority group access is recommended.
- Employers are responsible for staff safety. Safe working conditions are ensured. Employees know their rights under employment and human rights legislation.
- A communication plan is in place to keep employees informed on issues affecting the workplace. It is useful to have a working group to regularly monitor changes and protocols.
- A daily screening program ensures all staff are fit to participate. Several jurisdictions have daily screening questionnaires available online.
- Meetings are conducted by phone or online wherever possible.
- Staff equipment is assigned to avoid sharing between employees.
- Scheduling and use of space ensures physical distancing. Workstations are sanitized throughout the day and between users.
Training Sessions and Athletes
- Athletes only travel with members of their household. Public transportation is avoided.
- Parking is limited to every second slot to allow for physical distancing.
- A record of participants is maintained.
- “Get in, Train, Get out.” Athletes arrive ready to go and do not mingle with the group upon arrival or departure.
- Athletes do not congregate, including in parking lots and stadiums.
- Participants have acknowledged the rules and restrictions set out in the CSA Guidelines for Remote Training During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Equipment and surfaces are sanitized between users or not shared at all.
- Club equipment, skis, boots, or other equipment is assigned to an individual skier for the duration of public health measures and kept separate from other skiers and their equipment (i.e., brought home.)
- Team meetings are conducted online.
- Car shuttles (e.g., roller ski hill workouts) are not used during training sessions.
- Food and beverages are not shared.
- Personal belongings (e.g., phones, gloves, helmets) and training equipment (e.g., balls, ropes) are not shared or touched by more than one person.
- Training groups are kept consistent and do not change from one session to the next. This is to reduce the chance of cross- contamination from one group of athletes to another.
- Creating priority training groups is considered.
- Sessions do not take place concurrently in the same location or adequate space to separate groups is provided.
- Wherever possible, training sessions are held outdoors. Most jurisdictions have additional directives for indoor activities.
- Overnight camps are avoided unless living arrangements, ground transportation and meals can be structured to follow health and safety protocols.
- For out-of-region camps, the Own the Podium Risk Management and Mitigation Tool is considered. Consideration has been given to where you are going and why you are going along with all associated risks to your group and to the community you are entering.
- Individual start only.
- Timing chips are not used. Timing is athlete self-timed or timed by the coach using a stop-watch.
- Shared bibs are not used.
- SafeSport Guidelines are followed for all training sessions, whether in-person or virtual.
- Coaches have considered wearing masks for all sessions.
- Training activities are structured so physical distancing is maintained.
- Athlete arrival and departure times are staggered to limit mingling.
- Training sessions are prepared ahead of time, keeping in mind individual athlete abilities in order to mitigate congestion.
- Workout directions and instructions are communicated prior to arrival on site.
- On site instructions are limited and allow for participants to maintain physical distancing.
- Individual risk profiles (e.g., coaches, athletes, volunteers) are reviewed and consideration has been given to whether objectives can be met without group training.
Skills Development Programs (Bunny Rabbits, Jack Rabbits, Track Attack)
- Participants are required to complete a screening questionnaire before each practice.
- Drop-off and pick-up protocols facilitate physical distancing.
Attendance is logged to help with contact tracing.
- High traffic areas are regularly cleaned.
- Equipment sharing is limited. Where sharing happens, equipment is cleaned between users.
- Group sizes are limited per federal and provincial/territorial guidelines and club policies.
- Plans are in place to maintain two metres between all participants, staff and volunteers.
- For young children who have difficulty physically distancing, two metres between groups of gathered children is ensured.
- Considering ages and abilities and to maintain physical distancing, spaces are big enough for the number of people using the space and how they will use the space considering.
- Guidelines for use of non-medical masks are followed. In most circumstances non-medical masks (NMM) or cloth face coverings are not deemed necessary in outdoor recreational spaces when physical distancing is possible and can be predictably maintained. However, use of NMM is recommended if physical distancing is not possible or is unpredictable, and local epidemiology and community transmission warrant it.
- Groups are divided into smaller numbers where necessary. There are enough leaders for the number of groups and children.
- If possible, children are cohorted in classes/groups with the same coaches or volunteers each day.
- Schedules are staggered to limit the number of children/youth in attendance at one time.
- Individual bathroom breaks are favoured over group bathroom breaks, maintaining required supervision.
- There is a “no sharing” food and drink policy, and potluck style meals are avoided. Children/youth bring filled water bottles or drink belts and their own snacks.
- Practice duration accounts for limited or no access to indoor spaces/warming facilities.
- There is a dedicated person to oversee coronavirus safety and ensure good communication.
Events/Racing (Credit to Canadian Snowsports Association for these protocols)
Organizers and Venue Considerations
- A COVID-19 Coordinator is assigned to: liaise with health officials, monitor and follow up on required symptom checks and attestation forms, maintain a record of contact information for all participants, create a notification system in the event of a positive test, develop backup staffing and volunteer plans.
Training and meetings for coaches, team captains, volunteers and event staff are done virtually whenever possible.
- Meetings that might be difficult virtually, e.g., jury meetings, are done with physical distancing and outside where possible.
- FIS World Cup Risk Mitigation testing protocols are followed (While not required at domestic level competitions, it would be considered the very best practice to do so).
- Local competitions with participants from the same geographical locations or regions are prefered so that the need for overnight stays and/or air travel is minimized or eliminated.
- Intra-club competitions with athletes that already have close contact with each other are encouraged.
New competition formats to keep local competition interesting are explored.
- Current levels of COVID-19 are assessed within your community (and communities where participants are traveling from).
- Close contact between participants from different clubs and organizations are prohibited or eliminated as appropriate.
- Physical distancing is maintained at all times by limiting competition size.
Specific consideration is given to particularly high traffic areas including: start area, finish area, mass starts, facilities used for changing, eating, warming up before starts and sprint heats, and so on
Nonessential visitors, spectators, and volunteers are limited or prohibited.
- Online registration is used exclusively.
- Shared equipment (e.g., video equipment, team radios, drills, rakes) is cleaned and disinfected before, during and after the competition.
Person-to-person transfer of competition equipment (e.g., bibs) is prohibited or limited. Paper bibs are prefered. If cloth bibs are used, they are handled and cleaned according to safety protocols.
- People in higher-risk categories, such as older adults and people with underlying health conditions, or those living with or having consistent contact with those populations, do not participate in any capacity or do so in a very limited capacity and with strict controls.
Participant Pre-competition Considerations
- All on-site participants, including but not limited to athletes, coaches and volunteers, complete a daily screening questionnaire. For added protection, these should be digitally collected and maintained by competition organizers.
- Participants arrive at the venue changed and ready to train or compete. Common facilities such as changing rooms are not used.
- Participants bring their own filled and other equipment needed. Sharing of food, water or other items is not permitted.
- Participants bring a fully sealable bag to store all personal items.
- “Team/site equipment” is sanitized before, during and after the competition or training session, or as often as is reasonable.
- Participants have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): face covering, gloves, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and soap, on their person.
- Warm-up activities are conducted outside where physical distancing is possible.
- Waxing activities take place outside or in a well-ventilated indoor space maintaining physical distancing at all times.
- Care is taken when handling fencing systems.
On Course Considerations During Inspection, Practice and Competition)
- Physical distancing is maintained at all times, especially in communal areas such as wax rooms or in public facilities in between races and/or heats.
- Close contact should be prohibited among individuals from different clubs or teams and competition staff.
- Non-medical masks or face coverings are worn at all times, especially when not on course. Note: Athletes do not need to wear face covering when on course but are encouraged to do so when on course with other athletes.
- Unnecessary use of indoor spaces is prohibited or severely limited.
Inspection times and practice times per club and/or team are assigned.
- Start times are staggered by club and/or team or other protocols are put in place to limit contact between clubs and/or teams.
- Lingering in finishing areas is prohibited.
- Prize ceremonies are done virtually or are significantly modifed by limiting spectators and coaches and ensuring physical distancing.
Person-to-person transfer of items (e.g., awards) is avoided.
- Contact information for the COVID Coordinator is made available on the race notice and event website in the event of a positive test within 48 hours of the completion of the event.