COVID-19 & Return To Activities Policies

COVID-19 Updates & Return To Activities Policies

Date: 11/3/2020 

To: SOAZ athletes, volunteers, families, and friends 

From: Jamie Heckerman, President & CEO 

Subject: Winter and Spring Season Updates  

Special Olympics Arizona is excited to offer Basketball, Cheerleading and Flag Football this upcoming winter season with practices set to begin November 30th. SOAZ is also planning to offer Powerlifting, Track & Field, and Volleyball in the spring season with practices set to begin January 18th 

Due to COVID-19 SOAZ cannot safely host a large culminating event and instead will offer Basketball in a league format. This season’s format will consist of four games over the course of four weeks from February 22nd – March 19thSOAZ will assist teams in scheduling their games each week and will share the results on the SOAZ website. If a team is unable to schedule games over the course of four weeks, SOAZ may be able to accommodate one-day event where teams can play multiple games. Individual Skills will be offered through stand-alone events between March 1st – 13thSOAZ will be hosting a Basketball Coaches Webinar to go over the structure of the season and what is expected of SOAZ delegations. Below will be the two dates for training opportunities 

Due to COVID-19 SOAZ cannot safely host a large culminating event and instead will offer Cheerleading through a virtual format. Teams will practice as they usually do, and each team will submit a video of their best performance to be judged during a virtual competition. SOAZ will be developing and sharing an informational packet about the virtual Cheerleading season, which will include instructions for recording and submitting video performances.

Due to COVID-19 SOAZ will be hosting a modified culminating competition for Flag Football, which will be broken down into sessions to ensure proper COVID-19 safety and mitigation measures are in place. SOAZ will send out more information about this event in January 2021.  

Your health and safety are top priority, as well as the health and safety of the entire Special Olympics Arizona community. We have been monitoring updates on the Coronavirus very closely via the CDC, WHO, and local authorities.  

Please refer to this page of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website for all tips or review the attached FAQ document from the Maricopa County Department of HealthIf you do not feel well, please stay at home. Please do not attend any Special Olympics Arizona events, including sports practices, competitions, fundraisers, etc. Wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, avoid high-fives, avoid handshakes, and avoid contact with your face. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to ensure the safety of our athletes and all constituents within the SOAZ community.  

Stay safe, 

Jamie Heckerman 

President & CEO  

Special Olympics Arizona 

Special Olympics Arizona’s top priority is the health and safety of our athletes, partners, coaches, volunteers, parents/guardians, staff, and all members of the SOAZ community. The purpose of this document is to lay out, in detail, the steps we must all take to Return to Activities in the safest way possible given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. 

We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Arizona State Department of Health (AZDHS) as well as input from our constituents in order to establish this approach. We have also surveyed our coaches/volunteers to collect feedback on the safety & prevention protocols included in our Return to Activities strategy. Please be aware that SOAZ may need to update/modify these protocols as conditions continue to change across our state, country, and the globe. We ask for your continued patience and understanding as we work through this unprecedented time together. Our athletes need us now more than ever!

As you read through this document, please take time to familiarize yourself with the varying guidelines listed in each phase of the Return to Activities strategy as they establish the framework for safely returning to sports practices. While there are some similarities between phases, each comes with its own specific measures geared towards easing our way back into activities slowly and methodically. This is a marathon, not a sprint! We are counting on our coaches & volunteers to help us in returning to activities safely. THANK YOU for all that you do to support our athletes and the continued success of SOAZ. 

PLEASE NOTE: Special Olympics Arizona’s Return to Activities guidelines and all information included within them are still subject to change. SOAZ staff are continuing to monitor the changing conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic as we continue consulting with local and state health officials for further guidance & direction. We will update constituents throughout the process to provide transparency as this plan changes.

Return to Activities Guidelines

Return to Activities Phase Two Addendum 

  • All Class A Volunteers (HODs, coaches, team volunteers & chaperones, GMT, etc.) are required to complete the COVID19 Safety & Prevention Measures Certification Course prior to returning to sports practices or attending any other in-person Special Olympics activities
  • This 90-minute certification course will include the following two parts:
    1. SOAZ COVID19 Safety & Prevention Measures Webinar (45 min)
    2. Online SONA Certification “Coronavirus Outbreak – What You Need To Know”  (45 min)
      • If you do not already have an account on Special Olympics’ Learning Portal, please  for registration instructions. 
  • The certification course will be offered virtually on a periodic basis throughout the season (additional course offerings will be added to the below list as they are scheduled). Pre-registration is required – please  to register for one of the following dates/times:
    • Tuesday, November 10th 1:00pm-2:30pm
    • Friday, November 13th 4:00pm-5:30pm

In order to be eligible to return to sports practices or attend any other in-person Special Olympics activities, ALL participants (Special Olympics athletes, Unified partners, HODs, coaches, team volunteers & chaperones, GMT, etc.) are required to:

  1. Complete the COVID19 Participant Risk Assessment AND
  2. Have a signed COVID19 Code of Conduct on file with SOAZ


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