May COVID-19 Update
Special Olympics Oregon COVID-19 RELATED UPDATES as of 5/20/2020
With Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s announcement of Phase 1 (limited) re-opening of some activities within several counties around the state, we anticipate that our local program leaders and stakeholders will begin to receive more questions about next steps regarding Special Olympics Oregon plans to return to sports training and competition and other gatherings. Here is an update from Special Olympics Oregon:
The health and well-being of our athletes is our top priority. To help to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and in response to circumstances created by the outbreak, here are the UPDATED precautions/actions Special Olympics Oregon is taking as of May 20, 2020:
NO Special Olympics Oregon training, competitions, events or gatherings (including local program team in-person meetings or registration events) shall take place through at least June 30, 2020. We will continue to assess the situation and provide updated guidance in the coming weeks. There is the possibility that this new June 30, 2020 return date for SOOR in-person gatherings could again be extended to even later in the year should circumstances warrant. This new extended date is based on the strong recommendation from Special Olympics, Inc. as well as guidelines shared by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority.
2020 SUMMER SEASON
Unified Champion Schools (UCS) in-person activities are done for the 2019-20 school year. UCS will continue to support school administrators, teachers, coaches, and students with and without intellectual disabilities in inclusive distance learning, sport and fitness opportunities through the end of the school year. Updates regarding UCS activities for Fall 2020 will be shared as the new school year approaches.
Special Olympics Oregon has officially CANCELED ALL 2020 SUMMER REGIONAL GAMES athletics, bocce and softball competitions. After exploring the feasibility of rescheduling these events for dates later in the summer, it was determined that there is still too much uncertainty to commit to setting any new dates for competitions in July or August.
While there may still be opportunities for local programs to offer local sport activities later in the summer even with the cancelation of regional competitions and the extension of current in-person gathering restrictions, there will likely be strict guidelines about size of gatherings and significant social distancing rules in place. Each local program will have the option to make these decisions around summer programming once/if SOOR restrictions are lifted. SOOR staff will work closely with local programs on any return to training plans to ensure that they meet required health and safety standards (these standards are currently being developed for each sport in collaboration with Special Olympics North America).
2020 FALL SPORTS SEASON
At this time, we are still hopeful for a return to some form of in-person sports programming for 2020 FALL SPORTS SEASON for aquatics, bowling, soccer and volleyball, but we will need to continue to take a long-term approach to this. SOOR will follow the lead of our international organization along with government and health officials to determine when it is safe to allow larger in-person gatherings. To assist all local programs with planning and budgeting, Special Olympics will determine by no later than July 31, 2020 whether or not we will move forward with offering 2020 Fall Regional Games competitions in aquatics, soccer, volleyball and virtual bowling which are currently scheduled for October and November. Even if fall regional competitions were to be canceled, there may still be opportunities for local programs to offer some form of local training and local scrimmages/competitions. Similar to summer season, each local program would have the option to make these decisions around fall programming once/if SOOR restrictions are lifted. SOOR staff will work closely with local programs on any return to training plans to ensure that they meet required safety standards (currently being developed for each sport).
Special Olympics Oregon will continue to maintain a high level of caution returning to regional competitions as these events often require travel, create large gatherings and are conducted in environments, which by their very nature, put people in close contact with one another for long periods of time. Even after some government health measures are relaxed related to social distancing and gatherings, these events will be the final part of the SOOR return to program offerings.
VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MEETINGS
Our response to this outbreak is a dynamic situation. For now, we simply do not have enough information to speculate or plan beyond the plans shared above.
In the coming weeks, Special Olympics Oregon staff plan to conduct Local Program Team Member Webinars and Community Virtual Town Halls to help answer questions and gather feedback from our volunteer leaders, athletes, coaches, families and supporters. More details about these events will be shared soon.
SOOR ACTIVE – AT HOME FITNESS COMMUNITY
In the meantime, we encourage everyone to stay healthy and active while continuing to follow all social distancing guidelines. Learn more about ways to be ACTIVE through health, fitness and wellness resources and events found on the Special Olympics Oregon SOOR Active page. To date, we have more than 500 members in this group with more people joining each day. We are very proud of our athlete leaders who have taken a large role in promotion and creating content related to this growing online resource.
Continue to be safe out there. Take care of yourselves. We miss you all and look forward to the day when we can all gather again.