April COVID-19 Update
As of April 1, 2022
PHASED APPROACH TO RETURN TO ACTIVITIES
Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) is excited to announce that it will be expanding in-person activities to Phase 3 starting April 16, 2022. Special Olympics Oregon will remain in Phase 2 until that date.
To ensure the safety of all participants, we are continuing to implement a phased approach to our return to activities.
All phases of the return plan are developed by the SOOR Return to Activities Task Force and approved by the SOOR Board of Directors. Plans are based on the guidance from Special Olympics, Inc., as well as guidelines shared by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and County Health Departments. The Special Olympics Oregon Return to Activities Task Force is comprised of athletes and local program leaders from across the state, board members, other content experts and staff.
Phase 3: Return to Statewide Sports Training & Competition
Public health trends allow for gathering and many of the safety restrictions to be relaxed or eliminated and for sports training and competitions to be offered locally as well as regionally with a traditional SOOR Summer Sports Season. There will continue to be COVID-19 Code of Conduct and COVID-19 Participant Waiver paperwork requirements for participants prior to return to any in-person activities on the field of play or in other non-sport settings during Phase 3.
Please see Phase 3 policy details below. CLICK HERE for a Phase 3 Easy Read version that is helpful to share with athletes and families.
Any modifications to the timeline or specific policy changes will be made in consultation with the SOOR Return to Activities Task Force and Board of Directors.
PHASE 3 – SOOR RETURN TO ACTIVITIES PLAN – Effective beginning April 16, 2022
Phase 3 – Sports Offered
The following sports/events may be offered during Phase 3 (at the discretion of each local program):
- Official SOOR Summer Sports (regional competitions will be offered in these 4 sports):
- Out of Season/Club Sports (training only) – please consult with SOOR staff before offering:
- Hiking/Walking Clubs
- Fitness Clubs
- One-day sport experiences
Phase 3 – Gathering Size
There will be no COVID related restrictions related to gathering for Special Olympics Oregon sports training in Phase 3. Teams must adhere to the 4:1 athlete to coach/chaperone ratio and follow any facility or local capacity guidelines. Eligible participants are defined as:
- Athletes with current Medical Form, COVID Code of Conduct and Communicable Disease Waiver
- Unified partners with current Class A approval (completed application, background check, completed trainings), COVID Code of Conduct and Communicable Disease Waiver
- Coaches with current Class A approval (completed application, background check, completed trainings), COVID Code of Conduct and Communicable Disease Waiver
- Any other approved Class A volunteers or staff directly supporting the sports training
- Spectators will be allowed to attend but local programs reserve the right to restrict spectator access during training based on facility or other circumstances. Separation still encouraged where possible.
Phase 3 – Masks, Physical Distancing & Other Safety Protocols
- All participants are still recommended, but not required, to wear a mask (except during aerobic/rigorous physical activity or eating/drinking) – regardless of vaccine status
- Masking will be required for all participants when on Special Olympics transportation
- Distancing should still be encouraged when possible and sanitation protocols should remain in place for each training session
- Sport by sport examples and best practices will be shared to assist coaches and organizers in implementing safe play protocols
- Participant screening will no longer be required but a COVID-19 Safety Training will be provided to Local Program leaders and head coaches
Phase 3 – Local Program Scheduling Flexibility
- During Phase 3 Summer Season, there will be set deadlines for regional competition registration
- Local programs still have flexibility when making the following choices:
- Which sport(s) to offer (from the provided menu)
- Whether sports will be offered as training only or for training and competition
- How many participants will participate per training site
- This flexibility also means that some local program may choose to NOT offer any official sports training or competition participation during the Phase 3 Summer Season due to a variety of reasons including facility availability, coaching resources (meeting the required minimum 4 athlete to 1 coach ratio), or other factors
PHASE 3 – UNIFIED CHAMPION SCHOOLS (UCS)
Our Unified Champion Schools programs will continue to work directly with school districts across Oregon and will utilize school district policies for any programming solely contained within the school district responsibilities. UCS will follow the same protocols as local programs for any programming when hosting events outside of school/district jurisdiction.
PHASE 3 – SOOR RETURN TO FUNDRAISING & OTHER NON-SPORT EVENTS
Phase 3 – SOOR Leadership Meetings or Other Non-Sport/Non-Fundraising Gatherings
- No COVID related restrictions on participants/attendees gathering size
- Outdoors recommended
- Indoor allowed
- Masks recommended (except when consuming food or beverages)
- Meetings involving meals are still recommended to be conducted outdoors or in smaller, private group settings if held indoors.
- Distancing strongly recommended when possible
- Consider shortening duration of gathering
Phase 3 – Fundraisers
- Local Program Hosted: Same guidance as meetings
- Partner Co-Hosted: Same guidance as meetings.
- Tip A Cop events fall under the “Partner Co-Hosted” category and will be considered on a case-by-case basis per staff review and approval prior to an event being scheduled
- Third Party (hosted exclusively by a group other than SOOR, but where SOOR reps may have a presence): Local county health guidelines apply
Phase 3 – Statewide/Signature Events (such as Polar Plunge, Plane Pull)
- Local (county) guidelines
- Any athletes who are asked to participate in official capacity will be required to follow COVID Code of Conduct
Please reference THIS DOCUMENT for more details and guidance on Phase 3 Fundraisers, Meetings and Non-Sporting Events.
While SOOR continues to relax some restrictions, there is still risk associated with Special Olympics Oregon returning to in-person activities at this time. Community spread of COVID-19 continues to occur in several parts of the state. The delta variant and the new omicron variant are on-going concerns – especially since there are still several counties in our state with vaccine rates lower than 60% for those 16 years and older. Many of our participants remain at higher risk.
It is estimated that as many as one-half to two-thirds of our athletes fall into the high-risk category. For a complete list of the underlying health and other conditions that Special Olympics, Inc. has determined to be high risk, please click here: SOI Fact Sheet: Who Is High Risk. In addition, many of our volunteers may also fall into higher risk categories for infection or negative outcomes due to infection.
Currently, SOOR does NOT require the vaccine to return to in-person participation. Further, we do not currently collect data on who has and has not been vaccinated or have a reliable means to track this prior to registration for the upcoming season. Special Olympics, Inc (SOI) has developed a tracking app that we will consider in the future. In Phase 3, all participants (athletes, Unified partners, coaches, other volunteers) will be held to the same safety and masking protocols regardless of vaccine status.
Everyone age 5 and older are now eligible to get the vaccine in Oregon and COVID-19 booster shots are also available for those who are eligible.
Special Olympics encourages everyone who has access to the COVID-19 vaccine, to get vaccinated. The vaccine will help protect you from getting COVID-19. If you still get infected after you get vaccinated, the vaccine works to prevent serious illness. By getting vaccinated, you also help protect people around you. People with intellectual disabilities are almost 6 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population. The vaccine helps to reduce the risk of serious disease and death. This information is not meant to be complete, exhaustive, or a substitute for medical professional advice or OHA and CDC guidance and is being made available in the context of the public health emergency related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
For more vaccine-related resources, please see resources on the right-hand side of this webpage.
We are proud of the incredible response we have received from athletes, volunteers, and supporters to our virtual programming during the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19. The health and well-being of our athletes has been our top priority. As we transition back into more and more in-person experiences, virtual programming options will remain moving forward. Programs currently being offered include:
Special Olympics Oregon launched this at-home wellness community in April 2020, and it has grown to 1,400 members. SOOR Active provides on-going virtual health education, wellness, sport, fitness, and social experiences. SOOR Active will continued in the future but will modify programming as we return to in person experiences moving forward.
SOOR Esports presented by PlayStation
Special Olympics Oregon introduced SOOR Esports presented by PlayStation as another way for athletes and Unified partners to engage in meaningful social interaction through on-line skills training and competition. To date, more than 200 players have participated in Unified Rocket League training and competitions. Esports will continue year-round.