Board of Supervisors meeting: Tuesday May 19 at 9am
San Diego County is, at the time of this article’s publishing, in “Phase 2” of California Governor Gavin Newsom‘s reopening guidelines. Very soon, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will be presenting a detailed plan to add YOUTH SPORTS to Phase 2 for San Diego County. If approved at Tuesday’s board meeting, San Diego County will submit the plan to Governor Gavin Newsom.
Youth Sports are currently in Phase 3 of Governor Newsom’s reopening plan. San Diego County hopes to safely accelerate youth sports and move them to Phase 2.
Zoom call with hundreds of local youth sports leaders
Last week, County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar held a Zoom conference with hundreds of local sports leaders. The meeting centered around how San Diego youth sports can return safely to their fields and facilities.
Supervisor Gaspar explained that the Board of Supervisors is in charge of the pandemic response for the county. Gaspar is a mom to three active kids, a business owner, and an elected official. Hence, she is uniquely qualified to bring together local sports leaders and create a plan for San Diego County.
Game On San Diego
See more about Gaspar’s plan at GomeOneSanDiego.com
Gaspar presented an initial draft of a “Return to Play” plan to over 200 youth sports leaders in San Diego. She went through a list of protocols, asking everyone to pay attention and point out any “fatal flaws” in the plan that would make returning to play impossible. Local leaders from a wide variety of youth sports chimed in with input and suggestions. Some sports directors pointed out possible conflicts with “Safe Sport” policies as well as privacy issues. Others pointed out possible modifications that could help coaches and parents while still adhering to the San Diego Public Heath Officer’s guidelines for group activities.
Example Protocols up for County Approval
With a constant focus on safety, Gaspar went through the plan for San Diego County’s youth sports programs.
Stable Sports Groups of 12
The plan emphasizes “Stable Sports Groups.” Stable Sports Groups are up twelve participants, not including coaches. These twelve players must remain the same. Players can not be in one group for one practice then a different group of twelve at another practice session.
Why twelve? The Health Officers of San Diego County have already allowed daycare providers to have up to twelve children in daycare facilities. Adhering to numbers that have already been allowed and proven safe is the best hope for getting the San Diego Health Officer’s seal of approval.
Parents and Guardians must read and sign the plan before they enter facilities or their kids join group activities. Another aspect of the plan is to ensure every parent, guardian, and coach agree to the new guidelines. Gaspar was also very clear to point out that organizations must support anyone’s decision not to participate.
Adherence to CDC Guidelines
Coaches and volunteers must be aware of and support the CDC guidelines. The Zoom participants were relieved to hear that there will be no new certifications for coaches and volunteers. As long as coaches and volunteers agree to the county’s plan and educate themselves on CDC guidelines, no new certifications will be required. (phew!)
For example: CDC guidelines explain that any participant or coach or volunteer who is showing symptoms must be sent home. Gaspar explained, “It’s common sense. Don’t let sick people participate. Everyone can agree on that.”
Health protocols for facilities were explained in detail. Regularly touched surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Each facility must present a plan to the county identifying how cleaning and disinfecting will be done.
Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and other cleaning products must be readily available. Gaspar fielded some questions from leaders who noted difficulty finding these products. She offered to help leagues & organizations purchase hand sanitizer and cleaning products with her county resources and the county’s bulk purchasing power.
Pickup / Dropoff changes were also discussed. Gaspar explained that current health guidelines do not allow for carpooling. The Public Health Officer for San Diego County would not approve a plan that includes carpooling to and from practice facilities.
Michael Duggan, City SC Director, offered to submit suggestions that would allow parents to safely observe practice sessions. Because of his suggestions and those from other directors and coaches, San Diego’s plan includes options for parents to safely observe training sessions. If parents choose to stay and observe practice, they may do so from pre-designated areas, while keeping proper distancing from athletes and other spectators.
Practices need to include only individual fitness and skills training. Social distancing must be enforced as much as possible, so coaches should focus on individual skills and fitness during this phase.
Baby steps. Practices first. Hopefully games will follow.
Starting with practices now, Gaspar is hoping to gain approval from Governor Newsom this week. She explained that athletic families all want to see games happen again, but we can start with practices.
Sports are currently in “Phase Three” of the governor’s plan for reopening California. San Diego is currently in Phase 2. The county, however, is hoping that group practices for youth sports will be approved as part of San Diego County’s Phase 2. Gaspar explained that she is hoping to see approval for this accelerated plan by Friday, May 22nd.
Any chance of playing games in the next few months?
One sports leader asked Supervisor Gaspar if there is any chance of seeing actual games being played this summer. She answered with an enthusiastic, “YES! I hope we move through this first phase [practices only] quickly. If we go for that [competitive games] now, though, the governor would never approve it.”
Gaspar explained that she is hopeful that games will be able to possibly return in June or July. If San Diego County can demonstrate safe reopening, like has happened with local beaches, prospects are good for a progression into competitive games and larger gatherings in June or July.
“I can’t see our public health official approving tournaments in the next few months,” Gaspar continued. “I can’t see tournaments happening until late July or August at the earliest. But maybe we can reimagine tournaments and be creative about how we can make a tournament happen.”
“We need to finish this first step here. Prove that it can happen safely, and move from there. … Practice first. then games. Maybe this  will just be a practice season, but I’m hopeful that won’t be the case.”
Health and Safety First
Gaspar further described the County’s constant focus on health and safety. “San Diego is looking good with hospital capacity.” San Diego County will be getting more testing capacity in the coming weeks. Consequently, Covid diagnosis numbers will increase because of the volume of tests being done. The Board of Supervisors is, therefore, basing reopening plans on ensuring San Diego’s healthcare system is not overwhelmed.
Governor Newsom has said, “I would not be sitting here without baseball.”
“I would not have gotten into Santa Clara University had it not been for a baseball scholarship. There was no way to do that academically.”California Governor Gavin Newsom, The Lead podcast, 2019
Governor Newsom understands the importance of health, and he understand the importance of youth sports. If anyone, therefore, would like to contact him and point out the importance of young San Diego County athletes returning to their sports, USE THIS EMAIL PAGE.