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July COVID-19 Update

As of 7/6/2021

 

PHASED APPROACH TO RETURN TO ACTIVITIES

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) is excited to announce that athletes will be returning to limited in-person activities this Fall!  To ensure the safety of all participants, we are adopting a phased approach to our return to activities.

Phase 1 return plan was developed by the SOOR Return to Activities Task Force and approved by the SOOR Board of Directors.  It is 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), and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).   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 1:  Return to Local Sports + Activities (Effective August 1, 2021)

There will continue to be NO in-person training, competitions, events, or gatherings (including local program team in-person meetings or registration events) through July 31, 2021. This date coincides with the conclusion of the 2021 Special Olympics Oregon Summer Virtual Sports Season.

Phase 1 is currently scheduled to continue through December 31, 2021.  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.

In Phase 1, local programs will have the option to select from a menu of sports to host limited sized sports training in outdoor settings with specific safety protocols in place.  There will also be paperwork requirements for participants prior to return to any in-person activities on the field of play or in other non-sport settings.

Phase 2:  Return to Statewide Sports (Anticipated to be January 1, 2022)

The target date for Phase 2 is January 1, 2022 with a return to statewide sports.  The plan is to offer a traditional SOOR Winter Sports Season featuring basketball, powerlifting and snow sports.  Our hope is that public health trends allow for gathering and other safety restrictions to be relaxed or eliminated and for competitions to be offered locally as well as regionally.   More information about a transition into Phase 2 will be shared toward the end of 2021.

RETURN TO ACTIVITIES PLAN FOR PHASE 1

Sports Offered

The following sports/events will be offered during Phase 1:

  • Official SOOR Sports
    • Athletics: All running, walking, rolling events, softball throw + running & standing long jump
    • Bocce
    • Soccer: Skills and individual drills only – no direct contact with other players
  • Additional SOOR Club Sports
    • Hiking/Walking Clubs
    • Fitness Clubs
    • Cycling
    • Tennis
    • One-day sport experiences – please consult with SOOR staff

Gathering Size

No more than a 50 total of eligible participants will be allowed to gather for Special Olympics Oregon sports training. Teams must adhere to the 4:1 athlete to coach/chaperone ratio.  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
  • Class A volunteers who will be on-site to help set venue and implement all safety protocols
  • Any other approved Class A volunteers or staff directly supporting the sports training
  • No Spectators: In order to assure safety, consistency in attendance, and maximize the greatest opportunity for participation with the limited capacity, spectators will NOT be permitted to attend sports training

 

Masks, Physical Distancing & Other Safety Protocols

  • All participants will be required to wear a mask (except during active physical activity) – regardless of vaccine status
  • Participant screening, distancing, and sanitation protocols will be in place for each training session
  • COVID Safety Manager(s) will be responsible for setting up venue and creating proper flow and processes to ensure that everyone is safe from the time they arrive to the time they depart the training venue

Local Program Scheduling Flexibility

  • During Phase 1, there will be no specific start or finish deadlines (local programs can set their own dates)
  • Local programs have flexibility when making the following choices:
    • When to start and finish the season
    • Which outdoor sport(s) to offer (from the provided menu)
    • How many participants (up to 50) will participate per training site
    • How many trainings will be offered
  • This flexibility also means that some local program may choose to NOT offer any sports training during Phase 1 due to a variety of reasons including facility availability, coaching resources, or other factors

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.

RETURN TO FUNDRAISING & OTHER NON-SPORT EVENTS

SOOR Leadership Meetings or Other Non-Sport/Non-Fundraising Gatherings:

  • 50 or fewer participants/attendees
  • Outdoors recommended
  • Indoor allowed
  • Masks required (except during rigorous exercise or equivalent)
  • Distancing strongly recommended
  • Consider shortening duration of gathering

 

Fundraisers

  • Local Program Hosted: Same guidance as meetings
  • Partner Co-Hosted: Same guidance as meetings
  • Third Party (hosted exclusively by a group other than SOOR, but where SOOR reps may have a presence): Local county health guidelines apply

Statewide/Signature Events

  • Local (county) guidelines
  • Any athletes who are asked to participate in official capacity will be required to follow COVID Code of Conduct

SUMMARY

While Oregon has now opened with fewer restrictions, there is still risk associated with Special Olympics Oregon returning to in-person activities at this time.  Community spread of COVID-19 continue to occur in several parts of the state.   The Delta variant is a growing concern – especially since there are still several counties with vaccine rates lower than 50%.  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.

 

COVID-19 VACCINES

Currently, SOOR does NOT require the vaccine to return to in-person participation.  Further, we do not 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) is currently developing a tracking app that we will consider in the future.  In Phase 1, all participants (athletes, Unified partners, coaches, other volunteers) will be held to the same safety and masking protocols regardless of vaccine status.

Everyone age 12 and older are now eligible to get the vaccine in Oregon.  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 page.

VIRTUAL PRORAMMING

We are proud of 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 some in-person experiences, virtual programming options will remain moving forward.  Programs currently being offered include:

SOOR Active

Special Olympics Oregon launchedthis at-home wellness community in April 2020 and it has grown to more than 1,250 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.

2021 Summer Virtual Sports Season

The Special Olympics Oregon Summer Virtual Games presented by Providence Health & Services are currently in full swing.  More than 300 sport participants and 45 coaches have been finding ways to do athletics, fitness, golf, and soccer virtually.  Upcoming events include:

  • Opening Ceremonies: July 12, 2021 at 1pm on  
  • Competition Score Deadline: July 18, 2021
  • Games Celebration Week: July 26-30, 2021 featuring daily themes and sports awards
  • Ceremony and Victory Dance: Friday, July 30th in the evening
  • For more detailed information, go to Summer Virtual Games

 

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, close to 200 players have participated in Unified Rocket League training and competitions.   Esports will continue year-round and will be included in the 2021 SOOR Summer Virtual Games with a season ending tournament on Monday, July 26, 2021.