October 13, 2020
Dear Members, Athletes, Parents, and Coaches,
As I am sure you are aware, the incidence of COVID-19 in our community increased slowly but fairly steadily from early in the summer to mid-September, exceeding the 14-day average case rate/100,000 population of 15 during the week of September 14, the limit the NSCF board formalized nearly two months ago as the cutoff for group outdoor training. After much discussion and deliberation, on September 17 the board decided to continue to offer outdoor group training for three reasons:
- Since the time the board first initiated protocols for group training, understanding of COVID-19 spread has progressed to the understanding that the virus is primarily spread through respiratory transmission, which mask wearing and social distancing limit effectively.
- For this reason, we believe that strict compliance with our training protocols, which include proper social distancing for athletic activities (10 feet), mandatory use of masks at all times when athletes are not actively exercising, and group sizes limited to no more than 10 participants that are kept intact for the duration of a training period effectively lowers the probability of transmission.
- Of all the training and competition opportunities currently being offered by clubs and schools in our community, including football, volleyball, swimming, and cross country running, we believe that the NSCF’s outdoor training program lies at or near the safe end of possible group activities where the likelihood of transmission of the virus is lowest.
Since then the incidence of COVID-19 has increased more rapidly, reaching a 14-day average case rate of 32/100,000 population yesterday. The NSCF board still feels that as long as masking, social distancing and our other guidelines incorporated in the accompanying policy document (see below) are strictly observed outdoor activities can be conducted safely. The board appreciates the health risks of COVID-19 and will continue, as planned, to carefully monitor the incidence of COVID-19 in our community, and will act to limit training when it feels that the risks outweigh the benefits of our activities. While the club will do what it can to keep participants safe, no activity is without risk; we urge all participants and/or their parents to decide whether the risk is acceptable to them.
I include our updated (10/13/20) Guidelines for Training Activities below. If you have questions, concerns or comments please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope this finds you well and still enjoying getting outside.
President, NSCF Board of Directors
Coronavirus Guidelines for NSCF Training Activities (updated 10/13/20)
Below is a coronavirus alert level chart from the State of Alaska used by the Alaska School Activities Association (see http://www.newsminer.com/opinion/community_perspectives/tough-decisions-ahead-for-alaska-youth-sports/article_56316c0a-ce1f-11ea-a885-37e3a69a42d4.html) to recommend guidelines for sports activities at differing levels of coronavirus incidence. The chart uses cases/100,000 population (averaged over the preceding 14 days) to allow proper statistical comparison between localities of different populations; this data, updated daily, is available online from the State of Alaska at https://coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com/datasets/table-2c-geographic-distribution-of-case-rates/data .
For example, as of Aug. 2, in the last 14 days the state reported 88 new cases in the FNSB for an average of 6 cases/day; with a population of 95,898 this translates to an average daily incidence (case rate) of 6.6 cases/100,000 population, Intermediate Alert Level in the table above. For the same period the Municipality of Anchorage reported 916 new cases for an average of 65 cases/day; with a population of 291,841 this translates to an average daily incidence of 22.4 cases/100,000 population, High Alert Level.
The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) recommends all high school sports transition to outdoor conditioning only with social distancing at the High Alert Level (>10 cases/100,000 people per day averaged over 14 days). Guidelines adopted for NSCF youth training activities are:
- A fourteen-day average of less than one case /100,000 population: business as usual, including indoor practices, and use of the cave.
- A fourteen-day average of one to less than five cases/100,000 population: outdoor activities only, groups of up to 15 permitted with social distancing of 10 feet, masks to be worn when not actively exercising.
- A fourteen-day average of five to less than 15 cases/100,000 population: outdoor only, groups of up to 10 permitted with social distancing of 10 feet, masks to be worn when not actively exercising.
- A fourteen-day average of 15 or greater cases/100,000 population: : outdoor only, groups of up to 10 permitted with social distancing of 10 feet, masks to be worn when not actively exercising; monitor the incidence of COVID-19 in our community daily and act to limit group training when the board feels that the risks outweigh the benefits of our activities.
These policies may be modified in response to changing circumstances with the pandemic.
In addition to the case incidence guidelines above, coaches and athletes will abide by the following:
- Keep cohorts the same (no switching between training groups) and, if possible, keep siblings in the same cohort to limit the extent of possible exposure to the virus.
- Coaches to exercise social distancing from athletes, wear masks when feasible, and to monitor compliance of same by the athletes.
- No indoor gathering before or after outdoor training.
- Coaches and athletes will sanitize their hands and any equipment used outdoors before and after training sessions. Weight equipment used outdoors and biathlon rifles will be sanitized between uses by different individuals.
- If coaches or athletes don’t feel well, stay home. COVID-19 symptoms may include fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, loss of sense of smell/taste, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in addition to fever/chills/cough/muscle aches/shortness of breath. If you develop any of the above symptoms contact your healthcare provider for appropriate evaluation and testing, if indicated. Coaches and athletes who develop symptoms and tested negative should coordinate with their health care provider for return to activity guidelines. Coaches and athletes who have had close contact (closer than 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with a person that has tested positive should be quarantined for 14 days from the time of exposure and should contact their health care provider to see if testing is indicated; a negative test result does not end the quarantine. Coaches and athletes who have tested positive should contact their health care provider for guidance on discontinuation of isolation and return to activity (as of Aug. 2nd the CDC recommendations are A.) 10 days since time of test if asymptomatic or B.) 24 hours without fever, improvement of symptoms AND at least 10 days since onset of symptoms). Athletes (or their parents) are required to report any of the above to a coach immediately and coaches will report athletes or themselves to a member of the SDOC.