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January 2023 COVID-19 Update

As of January 10, 2023

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) is moving into Phase 4 of our Return to Activities as we prepare for the upcoming Winter Season.

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 4: Return to Statewide Sports Training & Competition with fewer restrictions
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 Participant Waiver paperwork requirement for participants prior to return to any in-person activities on the field of play or in other non-sport settings during Phase 4.  However, the COVID Code of Conduct form is no longer required.

Please see Phase 4 policy details below. CLICK HERE for a Phase 4 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 4 – Sports Offered
The following sports/events may be offered during Phase 4 Winter Season (at the discretion of each local program):

  • Official SOOR Winter Sports (some level of local, regional, or state competitions will be offered in these 6 sports):
    • Basketball
    • Powerlifting
    • Snow Sports (recreation/club level only)
    • Alpine Skiing
    • Cross-Country Skiing
    • Snowboarding
    • Snowshoeing
  • Out of Season/Club Sports (training only) – please consult with SOOR staff before offering:
    • Hiking/Walking Clubs
    • Fitness Clubs
    • One-day sport experiences
    • Other

Phase 4 – Gathering Size
There will be no COVID related restrictions related to gathering for Special Olympics Oregon sports training in Phase 4. 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 and Communicable Disease Waiver
  • Unified partners with current Class A approval (completed application, background check, completed trainings) and Communicable Disease Waiver
  • Coaches with current Class A approval (completed application, background check, completed trainings) 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 4 – Masks, Physical Distancing & Other Safety Protocols

  • All participants are still recommended, but not required, to wear a mask – regardless of vaccine status
  • Masking will continue to be required for all participants when on Special Olympics transportation.  The SOOR Return to Activities Task Force will continue to monitor public health trends as regional competitions approach.
  • 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

Phase 4 – Local Program Scheduling Flexibility

  • During Phase 4 Winter 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 programs may choose to NOT offer any official sports training or competition participation during the Phase 4 Winter 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 4 – Local Program Response to COVID-19

What happens if athletes are exposed?

  • Start Precautions Immediately
    • Local Programs will notify athletes and families that they could have been exposed to COVID at a SOOR practice.
    •  SOOR COVID Incident Reports will need to be completed by a coach/ LP mgmt. team member and sent to state office.
    • Athletes should wear a mask after being exposed and get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure.
  •  If athletes test Negative after a possible exposure:
    • Continue taking precautions through day 10.
    • Wear a high-quality mask when around others at home and indoors in public.
  • If athletes test Positive after a possible exposure:
    • Isolate immediately.
    • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign, seek medical care immediately.

When will Local Program cancel practice or an event?

Cancellations are at the discretion of the Local Programs.  Reasons for cancellations:

  • When you cannot maintain the 4:1 ratio.
  • If there was a large outbreak directly connected to a venue shared by public participants (pool, etc.)
  • When too many athletes on a team have COVID and you cannot carry out a meaningful sport/play experience.
  • When deciding to cancel a training session, Local Programs will work with state office to keep all parties informed.

When will masks be required in response to exposure/ outbreak within the team?

  • Athletes are recommended to wear a mask for 6-10 days after being exposed, regardless of vaccine status.
  • Masking will be required for all participants when on Special Olympics transportation.
  • Eating snacks is discouraged during all training sessions, unless there is a specific reason an athlete may need to eat, I.E such as low sugar levels.


OHA & CDC Isolation and Quarantining guidelines that SOOR will be following for Phase 4:

SOOR Athletes that have a confirmed COVID-19 case and/ or presumptive COVID-19 case are required to:

  • Isolate for at least five (5) days after illness onset and until 24 hours after fever is gone, without use of antipyretics, and until COVID-19 symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, and diarrhea) are improving.
  • Isolate for at least five (5) days after the collection date of the specimen that tested positive if asymptomatic or only with symptoms other than fever, cough, shortness of breath and diarrhea.
  • Isolate for at least 10 days if suffering from severe to critical illness related to COVID- 19, if hospitalized for COVID-19, or if the individual has a severely compromised immune system.
  • Stay in close communication with local or state public health authorities and cooperate with public health recommendations.

The CDC Guidance is to isolate for 5 days from the onset of symptoms.  Since people can be infectious for up to 10 days, if you choose to be around other people during day 6-10, please wear a tight-fitting mask.  When counting your 10 days, the date of onset is day 0.


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.


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. 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. In Phase 4, 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:

SOOR Active
Special Olympics Oregon launched this at-home wellness community in April 2020, and it has grown to 1,600 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 & Fortnite training and competitions. Esports will continue year-round.