ROBBINSVILLE, NJ - As part of its guidance released on Friday, the NJSIAA included a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers.
Below is the FAQ:
1. Why does this guidance differ from the guidelines issued by the New Jersey Department of Health?
• Because student-athletes have not been actively engaged in interscholastic sports, whether in practice or games, since earlier this year, there are significant concerns that student-athletes may be severely deconditioned, and high-intensity workouts could result in avoidable injuries or other health issues. As a result, and to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes to the fullest extent possible, the NJSIAA’s Medical Advisory Task Force believes it is most medically appropriate to recondition student-athletes before beginning rigorous workouts during the summer months. There is no urgency or immediacy for interscholastic sports to begin contact workouts or games, therefore, with the benefit of this additional time, greater precautions can be taken in the near term.
• Recent media reports have also demonstrated that, despite restrictions, return to sports at both the college and professional levels has been linked to an increased number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. As New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, we must implement and abide by even more rigorous restrictions as we reopen. If we do not do this, the likelihood of a spike is greater and could cause more restrictive, as opposed to less restrictive, conditions on all New Jersey residents.
2. How long will PHASE 1 be in effect?
• It is anticipated that this PHASE will continue for approximately two (2) weeks, or from July 13, 2020, through July 26, 2020. Progression to the next PHASE will be dependent upon directives from the Governor and changes in the prevalence of COVID-19 throughout the State.
3. When will the PHASE 2 guidance be released? • The NJSIAA’s Medical Advisory Task Force is finalizing the next PHASE of guidance. It is anticipated that the next PHASE of guidance will be released at least two (2) weeks prior to the start of the next PHASE.
4. What kind of supplies will the district need? • Thermometer for temperature screenings • Hand sanitizer • EPA approved cleaners and disinfectants against COVID-19 • Face coverings • Disposable gloves
5. Why is it required that the COVID-19 Questionnaire be completed and submitted seven (7) days prior to the start of the summer recess period? • Potential risks of cardiac injury caused by COVID-19 infection warrants a cautious return to play for active people and competitive athletes. Significant cardiac damage has been observed in about 25% of severely ill patients with COVID-19 which is much higher when compared with the other viral infections. • Myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation) caused by the virus invading the heart muscle cells could result in cardiac dysfunction, abnormal heart rhythms, and death. This can be determined by blood tests looking for elevated heart muscle enzymes or abnormalities on EKG or ECHO (heart ultrasound). • In the acute phase of the infection, exercise could result in accelerated viral replication, increased inflammation, and heart muscle damage. • Therefore, it is imperative that we identify students that have been diagnosed or potentially exposed to COVID-19 using the COVID Questionnaire. 4
6. What kind of screening questionnaire needs to be administered?
• A recommended template for the screening questionnaire will be made available to all schools. Districts can determine the best means (electronic or paper) and platform (Survey Monkey, Microsoft Teams, etc.) to administer the screening questionnaire. Screening questionnaires must be completed prior to arriving on school grounds.
7. How can temperature screenings be conducted? • Districts may determine the most effective way to conduct temperature screenings. If districts are unable to purchase a thermometer, consideration may be given, among other things, to observing a parent/guardian take the temperature of a student-athlete (with a thermometer from the student’s home) in the presence of district personnel.
8. Why are groupings limited to 10 student-athletes?
• As New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, and New Jersey has one of the highest rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, the NJSIAA’s Medical Advisory Task Force believes it is most medically appropriate to initially limit the size of student groupings. In this way, if a student tests positive for COVID-19, the universe of other potential confirmed cases will be limited. As the weeks progress, the size of student groupings will increase appropriately.
9. If groupings are limited to 10 student-athletes, does that mean that no more than 10 people from a team may be at a single practice?
• No, there can be multiple groupings from the same team at the same practice. However, the total number of student-athletes that may be at the same practice is limited by the parameters of the Governor’s Executive Orders.
10. What is the protocol/procedure for student-athletes who need to use the restroom?
• The number of student-athletes who will be permitted to use the restroom at the same time will vary by district and will depend on the size and capacity of each district’s restrooms, including the number of stalls and sinks in each restroom. To the fullest extent possible, appropriate social distancing shall be maintained, and face coverings are worn when more than one student-athlete is in the restroom. Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected with EPA approved cleaners and disinfectants against COVID-19 as often as possible throughout the day, but at least daily.
11. After a parent/guardian (or another adult) drops off a student-athlete, can he/she remain on school grounds?
• After a student-athlete completes the screening questionnaire and temperature screen process, the individual who provided transportation for the student-athlete should leave the facility immediately. • However, if an issue occurs during the workout, and a parent/guardian is called back to the facility by a coach or other district personnel, they should return as soon as possible. Any parent or guardian asked to come to the facility shall wear face coverings and shall comply with social distancing requirements.