Requirements for Delegations to Return to Play

The COVID-19 pandemic introduces a number of different challenges for delegations. Our number one goal is to get athletes active and training together again while keeping their safety and well-being as the cornerstone to all of our decisions on a state level. On this page you will find the guidelines that will allow athletes, coaches and Unified Partners to get back to physical activity in a safe, phased approach.

SOMN Return to Play Timeline and Details

Return to play guidelines as of 4/30/2021
New information below regarding practice sizes, mask requirements, and protocol for suspending practice.

Currently SOMN is in Phase 1

  • AS OF APRIL 1, SOMN will continue in Phase 1 with groups of 25 or less. NEW INFORMATION BELOW as of 4/15/2021
    • Current practice pod size is 25 maximum total participants per practice session (coaches, Unified partners, athletes, team assistants, parents, spectators) per SOI Phase 1 Guidelines.
    • Pods should stay the same from week to week and not intermingle. Each pod can have a max of 20 athletes and 5 coaches to meet coach ratios.
    • Delegations may choose to limit participation in order to meet the practice session requirements.
    • Sports that have team benches or dugouts must space out to allow for social distancing.  Example, softball dugouts may expand out of the traditional dugout by setting chairs up behind or next to the dugout.
    • Please review #10 below for parent and spectator requirements at practice.

How to Return to Play

  • Notification: Notify Special Olympics Minnesota at least TWO WEEKS PRIOR to your anticipated start date in each sport if your delegation is interested in returning to in-person practices.
  • Meeting & Training: Head of Delegation, Head Coach and/or your delegation’s LSMT must meet with Special Olympics Minnesota to go through all guidelines and requirements.
  • Paperwork & Waiver: All paperwork must be up to date AT LEAST A WEEK BEFORE PRACTICE STARTS. This includes the online COVID-19 waiver and all necessary paperwork for athletes, Unified Partners and coaches.
  • Practice: After each step listed above is complete your delegation may hold the first practice.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Please review the Special Olympics Minnesota Vaccine FAQs

Delegation requirements to return to practice

1. All athletes, coaches, Unified Partners, Heads of Delegations and team assistants are required to complete the COVID-19 Training and Waiver and have up to date certifications on file (athlete medical/consent, coach certifications, background checks, etc.) prior to beginning practice.
2. If you have any of these high risk conditions listed below, it is recommended that you should not return to Special Olympics Minnesota in-person activities until there is little to no COVID-19 in your community.

If you do choose to return to in-person activities, you acknowledge the risks that are associated with these activities, including putting yourself, your family and your teammates at risk. This applies to all roles within Special Olympics: athletes, coaches, Unified Partners, volunteers, etc.

High Risk Classifications:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility (like a congregate or group home)
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions (including heart failure, heart surgery, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy)
  • People who are immunocompromised
    • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher). Calculate your BMI
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease
  • People with brain and spinal cord disorders (like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke, dementia)
3. Practice sessions cannot exceed 25 individuals (NEW INFORMATION BELOW as of 4/15/2021)
  • Current practice size: 25 maximum total participants per practice session (coaches, Unified partners, athletes, team assistants, parents, spectators) per SOI Phase 1 Guidelines.
  • Pods should stay the same from week to week and not intermingle. Each pod can have a max of 20 athletes and 5 coaches to meet coach ratios.
  • Each pod should be socially distanced from each other at least 12 feet away from the next pod.
  • Delegations may choose to limit participation in order to meet the practice session requirements.
  • Sports that have team benches or dugouts must space out to allow for social distancing.  Example, softball dugouts may expand out of the traditional dugout by setting chairs up behind or next to the dugout.
  • Please review #10 below for parent and spectator requirements at practice.
4. COVID-19 screenings must take place prior to entering every practice or team gathering.
  • Heads of Delegations and Head Coaches must use the COVID-19 Screening and Tracking Form and submit a copy to [email protected] after each practice session.
  • If a person answers yes to any questions, has a fever or shows signs of symptoms, the participant and anyone they arrived with will need to leave the venue immediately.
  • Athletes that have at any time previously tested positive for COVID-19 will need to provide written medical clearance from their doctor before returning to practice or in-person activities. This requirement is for the immediate purpose of ensuring no further COVID-19 transmission and because of the potential long-term (especially cardiac-related) health impacts that could make participation more dangerous. For athletes that have a current medical on file, this means they can submit a note from their doctor to SOMN. For athletes that do not have a current medical on file, they must get a new physical exam (dated after their positive COVID-19 test) to update their medical before returning to practice.
  • If a person develops symptoms during the event or practice, they will be asked to leave immediately.
    • There will be an isolation area set up for the individual(s) to go to until they are able to safely leave the premises.
    • Any person who has had close contact with the individual will also be asked to leave.
    • If symptoms progress and it requires a 911 call, notify the person that transported the individual along with the authorities that the individual is showing symptoms of COVID-19.
5. Teams must follow social distancing recommendations.
  • No direct, physical contact at practice. Indirect contact (e.g. through a ball in the hand) is allowed.
  • Individuals must adhere to social distancing recommendations when participants are not playing (on the bench, in the dugout, on the sideline, etc.).
  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet from other households during drop off/pick up of players.
  • Find new ways to show sportsmanship, for example use hands or hats to give a wave. Promote cloth face coverings or facemasks.
6. Masks Requirements (NEW INFORMATION BELOW as of 4/30/2021)

Indoors: Teams and individuals must wear cloth face coverings or face masks AT ALL TIMES to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Outdoors: Teams and individuals must wear cloth face coverings or face masks to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission at all times except while actively practicing or playing when 6 feet of social distance can be maintained.
  • Face coverings are required to be worn outdoors when participants are not actively practicing or playing including upon arrival and departure. Face coverings are also required to be worn at all times if social distancing cannot be maintained while actively practicing or playing.
  • Many sports often involve occasional close contact with others, so an activity or practice session may need to be modified to ensure that 6 feet of social distance can be maintained.
  • Athletes, volunteers, and coaches must follow facility requirements regarding wearing cloth face coverings or face masks.
  • MN Department of Health defines face coverings as: Types of face coverings include a paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna, or a religious face covering. It is not known whether face shields (a clear plastic barrier that covers the face) provide the same source control for droplets as face masks, but they may be an option in situations where wearing a face mask is problematic. For optimal protection, the shield should extend below the chin and to the ears, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece.
7. Team members cannot share snacks or drinks at practice.

Individuals must bring their own food and beverages.

8. Teams must report positive COVID-19 cases and exposure to positive COVID-19 cases.
  • If a case of COVID-19 is reported to you and is a part of your Delegation, report the case to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) at [email protected].
    • MDH or local public health will work with you to identify close contacts and do follow-up with your team.
  • If a case of COVID-19 is a part of your Delegation you must also report the case to SOMN.
    • Participants who are found to have COVID-19 symptoms and have not tested positive must wait 7 days after symptoms resolve to return to activity OR must provide written proof of physician clearance to Special Olympics Minnesota to return earlier.
    • Participants who have at any time tested positive for or currently have COVID-19 must provide written medical clearance before returning to sport and fitness activities. For athletes that have a current medical on file, this means they can submit a note from their doctor directly to SOMN. For athletes that do not have a current medical on file, they must get a new physical exam (dated after their positive COVID-19 test) to update their medical before returning to practice.
  • If a Special Olympics participant was exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 at a different location (e.g., their school or home or work) you must report the case to SOMN.
    • If the individual who was exposed has completed the COVID-19 vaccination (two doses in a two-dose series or one dose in a one-dose series) and is exposed outside of a Special Olympics practice, they do not need to quarantine if ALL the following are true:
      • The COVID-19 exposure was at least 14 days after their vaccination series was fully completed.
      • The COVID-19 exposure was within 90 days of their final dose of the vaccination series.
      • They do not currently have any symptoms of COVID-19.
    • If the individual who was exposed has NOT completed the COVID-19 vaccination and is exposed outside of a Special Olympics practice, the safest option is to stay home and away from others for 14 days. In certain situations, you may end your quarantine after 7 days with a negative COVID-19 test results. You cannot end your quarantine before 7 days for any reason. You may consider being around others after 7 days only if:
9. Protocol for suspending practice (NEW INFORMATION BELOW as of 4/15/2021)
  • Special Olympics Minnesota has the right to suspend in-person practices based on non-compliance or an increased positivity rate that prohibits in-person activities.
  • Per guidance and recommendation from Special Olympics International, we are monitoring the case rate on a county basis that will allow delegations to determine whether or not they may want to suspend in-person practices.  Special Olympics Minnesota is relying on the case rate data from the Minnesota Department of Health and following the same structure that Minnesota Department of Education uses to recommend which learning model a county and school should be in.  When a county reaches 50 or more cases over a 14-day period per 10,000 people, then Special Olympics Minnesota recommends that delegations in that county suspend in-person practices.
  • MDH data is updated every Thursday at 11am. To see the current county rates and for more information on the MDH Case Rate by County and Minnesota Department of Education guidelines for learning models please visit MDH’s site https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/stats/wschool.pdf
10. Spectator Requirements
  • Parents and spectators are not allowed in the practice area and must stay a minimum of 12 feet away from the practice area.
  • Spectators, athletes, coaches, and Unified partners must follow that facility’s guidelines for capacity limits.
  • If parents or spectators assist in practice or can not maintain the 12 feet of distance, then they will count towards the Special Olympics practice group size and must complete all the required SOMN paperwork and be registered as a coach for practice.
11. Transportation Guidelines

If participants will be traveling to an event, they should practice social distancing and wear a mask while on transportation with non-household members. As much as possible, participants should travel with members of their families and or individuals with whom they live. If Special Olympics is providing transportation (i.e., a bus), capacity must be limited so that social distancing can be followed on the bus and masks are required. Hand hygiene must also be followed and enforced.