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 1/21/2021

Currently SOMN is in Phase 1

  • Phase 1 in-person practice sessions of groups of 10 or less will be allowed depending on county COVID-19 numbers. Delegations MUST notify Special Olympics Minnesota before starting practice to review all Return to Play requirements with a SOMN staff.
  • Visit our Event Calendar for virtual opportunities

How to Return to Play

  • Notification: Notify Special Olympics Minnesota at least TWO WEEKS PRIOR to your anticipated start date 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.

Sports offered:

View the Spring Sports Season Coaches Meeting Recording

Delegation Resources

Facility Request COVID-19 Safety Plan
Travel to Activity and Onsite Screening
Preparing the Venue
Coaching Adjustments for Practice

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.
  1. 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)
  1. Practices cannot exceed 10 individuals.
    • Practice size: 10 maximum total participants per practice group (coaches, Unified partners, athletes, team assistants, parents, spectators) per SOI Phase 1 Guidelines. Minimum two coaches at all practices and delegation must follow Special Olympics coach ratios. Practice groups are determined by the size of the practice space you are using. Consult Special Olympics Minnesota for additional information.
    • Parents and spectators may not attend practice or sit on the sidelines. If they choose to attend practice, they must complete the COVID-19 Waiver and all other required Special Olympics Minnesota Level 1 paperwork. Parents and spectators will then need to be counted towards the practice size maximum.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Teams and individuals must wear cloth face coverings or face masks to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission, including when arriving at the sports facility and during all in-person practice activities according to the Return to Play sports guidelines listed above.
    • Athletes, volunteers, and coaches must follow facility requirements regarding wearing cloth face coverings or face masks. Even if not required by the facility, athletes, volunteers, and coaches are expected to wear 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.
  1. Team members cannot share snacks or drinks at practice. Individuals must bring their own.
  1. 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.
      • The individual who was potentially exposed must stay home and should not attend SOMN in-person activities until 14 days after exposure.
      • If the exposure is known to have taken place before the last time this individual was at an SOMN in-person activity, their practice group will be suspended from in-person activities for 14 days.
      • If the individual develops symptoms and tests positive, then practice will be suspended for at least two weeks.
  1. Protocol for suspending practice.
    • 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 determine whether or not in-person practices and Invitationals need to be suspended.  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 will suspend in-person practices for teams in that county.
    • MDH data is updated every Thursday. Special Olympics Minnesota will monitor the county case rate each week and use the weekly, updated data to communicate any changes to a team’s ability to hold in-person practice.
    • 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