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Pa. outlines youth, high school sports in green and yellow phases; pro sports can resume immediately

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The Wolf administration today issued preliminary guidance for high school and recreational sports teams to resume voluntary workouts and other in-person activities in the state’s yellow and green phases.

The guidance includes college and professional sports. All counties are in the yellow or green phase.

“Pennsylvania has some of the best athletes and teams in the country and they can now begin to safely return to organized sports,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “This is another step toward reopening our state and getting things back on track. As students and teammates get ready to train and compete, it’s important that they follow precautions to protect each other and their community from the risk of COVID-19.”

The preliminary guidance is a starting point for summer sports teams. The guidance for fall, winter and spring sports seasons may be updated, according to a press release.

Public and private K-12 schools under the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association in the yellow and green phase can resume voluntary sports-related workouts. Schools must first develop an athletic health and safety plan in alignment with the Department of Education's Preliminary Guidance for Phased Reopening of Schools guidance, that is approved by the local board of directors and posted on the school’s website.

Recreational and amateur sports teams in the green phase that are not affiliated with a K-12 school can hold in-person activities, including games and practices. Examples include basketball, hockey, field hockey, football, soccer, swimming, baseball, softball, lacrosse, gymnastics and kickball.

Youth sports organizations should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Gatherings of all participants, including players, athletic staff, officials and spectators, are limited to 25 in the yellow phase and 250, or 50 percent capacity, in the green phase, as outlined in the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania.

League and team staff must review CDC guidance for youth sports. Coaches and other adult personnel should wear face coverings and screen athletes for symptoms before practices and games. All participants must follow safe hygiene and social distancing practices, avoid unnecessary physical contact, and clean and disinfect equipment and facilities. Teams are encouraged to stagger drop-off and pickup times at outdoor locations and designate entrances and exits to facilities.

Parents and other spectators should practice social distancing, wear face coverings and not enter the field or bench areas. Parents should monitor children for COVID-19 symptoms and evaluate children at higher risk for severe illnesses.

College sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, including intramural and club sports, can resume in-person activity after developing an athletic health and safety plan in alignment with Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Postsecondary Education Institutions and Adult Education Programs guidance.

Professional sports can resume immediately. Teams or leagues in the yellow phase, or if more than 250 people are on site in the green phase, must have a COVID-19 safety plan approved by the Department of Health.

The guidance released today provides additional information. 

The Wolf administration also updated guidance on outdoor recreation today and previously released summer guidance for camps, pools, and child care.