October COVID-19 Update
October 23, 2020
Special Olympics Oregon COVID-19 RELATED UPDATES as of 10/23/2020
We are pleased with the incredible response we’ve 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 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 October 23, 2020:
UPDATE: There will be NO Special Olympics Oregon in-person training, competitions, events or gatherings (including local program team in-person meetings or registration events) through at least April 2, 2021. This new date coincides with the conclusion of the 2021 Special Olympics Oregon Winter Virtual Sports Season (more details below).
We will continue to assess the situation and provide updated guidance in the coming months. There is the possibility that this new return date for any type of SOOR in-person gatherings could again be extended should circumstances warrant. This new extended date is based on the strong recommendations from Special Olympics, Inc. as well as guidelines shared by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority. We have also been talking directly to our local program and athlete leaders around the state. Collectively, this group, has expressed concern about returning to any in-person activities too soon and putting our athletes and volunteers at risk of infecting others or becoming infected through any SOOR in-person gatherings.
Cases of community spread of COVID-19 are still occurring in several parts of the state and current trends are concerning. Oregon Health Authority models project the potential for moderate to significant increases in the coming weeks and months as colder weather approaches. Testing and contact tracing are not yet widespread enough to fully understand the full scope of risk to our athletes – many of whom are at higher risk for infection and negative outcomes due to infection. 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 ON WHO IS HIGH RISK .
VIRTUAL SPORTS & WELLNESS PROGRAMMING – 2020 FALL & 2021 WINTER SEASONS
During a time when Special Olympics Oregon is not able to offer in-person sports training or competition opportunities due to COVID-19 safety concerns, we want to ensure that athletes, Unified partners, volunteers, supporters and their families still have a variety of opportunities to engage in meaningful healthy, active and social activities.
1. SOOR ACTIVE – Special Olympics Oregon launched this at home wellness community back in April 2020 and it has grown to more than 1,000 members. SOOR ACTIVE provides on-going virtual health education, wellness, sport, fitness and social experiences. We will be launching another Fitness Challenge through SOOR Active towards the end of this calendar year. Stay tuned for more details.
2. 2020 FALL VIRTUAL SPORTS SEASON – Special Olympics Oregon is currently offering a Fall Virtual Sports Season which provides opportunities for participants to train and compete in various sports with the support of local and statewide coaches and mentors. Participants can take part in athletics (track & field), golf, soccer, and fitness as sport. The season will culminate with the 2020 Special Olympics Oregon Fall Virtual Games presented by Providence Health & Services which will take place in November and will feature an opening ceremonies and games celebration week featuring theme days, awards, highlight reels, a dance party and more!
3. 2021 WINTER VIRTUAL SPORTS SEASON – Special Olympics Oregon will also be offering a 2021 Special Olympics Oregon Winter Virtual Games featuring opportunities for athletes to train and compete in Athletics (Track & Field), Basketball Skills, and Fitness as Sport. Registration for 2021 SOOR Winter Virtual Season will open in December 2020. Athletes will be assigned to virtual coaches to begin training starting in late January 2021 and the season will continue through 2021 SOOR Winter Virtual Games Celebration Week which is scheduled for March 29 – April 2, 2021.
More detailed information about how to sign up for the 2021 SOOR Winter Virtual Sports Season will be shared in December. In fact, SOOR will again be sending a sign up letter via US Mail to EVERY athlete and Unified partner in our database who has participated in our program within the past 3 years. We want to make sure that ALL of our athletes and Unified partners across the state know about this opportunity and have a chance to be involved.
The guiding principles for our SOOR Virtual Sports Seasons are:
- Activities are structured within a season and are sports focused
- Every activity can be completed safely and easily by athletes with a wide range of skill levels with little or no equipment
- Events are easy to do anywhere, family members can join in, and modifications are permitted
- Events are designed to reinforce athletes’ skills and help them maintain or even improve their fitness
- Each participant has a coach/mentor, similar to what we do with in-person events
- So that all our athletes, family members, volunteers, and sponsors still feel the social connection that makes Special Olympics so meaningful, we’re reaching out and keeping people connected through direct mail, email and social media
4. SOOR ESPORTS presented by Sony – Special Olympics Oregon introduced SOOR Esports 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 125 players have participated in Unified Rocket League training and competitions. Esports will continue year round and will be included as part of both 2020 SOOR Fall Virtual Games and 2021 SOOR Winter Virtual Games.
5. UNIFIED CHAMPION SCHOOLS (UCS)- Our Unified Champion Schools programs will work directly with school districts across Oregon for additional school based virtual inclusive sports, leadership and schoolwide engagement opportunities as the school year continues for students around state.
Our response to this outbreak is a dynamic situation. For now, we simply do not have enough information to speculate or plan beyond the information shared above. The direct conversations with local program and school-based program leaders around the state along with input from our Board of Directors have been very important in helping us shape these plans.
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.