Q: What role, if any, will Grand Forks Public Health play in testing high school athletes as prep sports resumes?
The Herald and Grand Forks Public Health are teaming up in the coming weeks to try to answer questions related to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Greater Grand Forks Community.
Here is Grand Forks Public Health's answer to today's question:
Grand Forks Public Schools' competitive sports and activities for students in grades 7-12 will follow local and Eastern Dakota Conference guidelines for participation and competition. Decisions on practice, competition, and fan attendance will be made according to local and regional data and health official guidance.
The need for testing in an athlete, coach or staff that develops COVID-19 symptoms will be determined in consultation their health care provider.
Youth sports will take efforts to reduce the risk of transmission by the following precautions:
· A designated person or team should have a plan and implement COVID-19 prevention measures with a communication plan of how to notify administration, assist public health officials to rapidly notify athletes, parents and coaches of exposures, notification of fans of possible exposures, if warranted.
· Protect high risk athletes or coaches that are high risk of developing complications or death if they became ill with COVID-19 and those athletes and coaches that have a high risk household contact or other frequent contact with a high risk individual. Consider options and alternatives for those individuals to participate.
· Monitor and check the health of athletes before every practice and game. North Dakota High School Activities Association recommends monitoring and checking the health of athletes before every practice and game. Daily attendance logs at practice/contests/other gatherings for each team (varsity, junior varsity, junior high, etc.) are required. The requirement is an effort to prevent spread of COVID-19 and to aid in contact tracing in the event of any positive tests within the team. Daily logs should indicate groups that were in close contact (6 feet for 15 minutes or longer) and if the individuals were masked.
· Athletes, coaches, staff with symptoms should consult their health care provider to determine the need for testing and not be allowed to participate.
· Increase in ventilation to indoor venues, by opening doors, windows, increase the amount of outside air circulating through the HVAC system.
· If possible, physical distancing of at least 6 feet should be maintained.
· Discontinue handshakes before and after games.
· Having hand sanitizer readily available and encourage frequent use.
· Coaches should avoid face to face coaching.
· Wear cloth face coverings or masks, if possible.
· Athletes should have individual water bottles.
· Cohort as much as possible into small groups and keep groups separated from each other. Minimize close contact
· Stagger schedules for practices and locker room to avoid crowding. Use multiple locker rooms.
· Practice outdoors as much as possible.
· Frequent cleaning of gear, equipment, locker rooms.
· If a school needs to close due to COVID-19, practices and games should be suspended until school can resume.
· Be sure athletes are up-to-date with immunizations to prevent the spread of other illnesses.
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