COVID-19 Updates & Guidelines

Current Status

April 2, 2021 – The MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) amended the COVID-19 safety standards for youth and adult amateur sports activities on 3/22/21. The MA Youth Soccer Association subsequently issued guidelines on 3/25/21. Soccer remains classified as a moderate risk sport.

The minimum mandatory standards have been relaxed since fall 2020. For example, game modifications and spectator limits are no longer required. However, we must remain vigilant to keep everyone safe. Social distancing and face coverings are still mandated for all players, spectators, and coaches.

NGS has integrated these standards into our safety guidelines and practices for spring 2021. (See below.) Protocols are updated as information changes.

Newton Girls Soccer is committed to keeping our community safe by implementing and enforcing the MA Youth Soccer Association Return to Soccer Guidelines. Our expectation is that every family, player, coach and volunteer follow current federal, state, and local COVID-19 guidelines including wearing masks and maintaining social distance. If you observe non-compliant or unsafe behaviors during NGS practices or games, please let us know.

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Given the nature of this pandemic, the guidelines are continuously being reviewed and updated. Please check this page frequently for the current status of our return to soccer activities.

MA Youth Soccer Protocols

Mass Youth Soccer requires all adults involved in soccer activities to read, understand and conduct themselves in accordance with the Spring 2021 COVID-19 Soccer Protocols.

Additional resources which may be of interest to NGS families and volunteers are available at the MA Youth Soccer COVID Hub:

NGS Safety Measures

To ensure the safety of our players and coaches during the COVID-19 pandemic, all NGS participants must follow MA Youth Soccer Spring 2021 Covid-10 Soccer Protocols. When registering for NGS programs, all parents must acknowledge having read the MYSA PROTOCOLS and sign the MYSA PLAYER PARTICIPANT RELEASE OF LIABILITY.

Based on MYSA’s guidelines, we are enforcing the following safety measures:

Players and coaches must be in good health to participate in any NGS activity.

  • Participants must have had no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days and must not have been exposed to someone that has been ill in the past 14 days.
  • A player who has been exposed to COVID-19 (contact within six feet for approximately 10 minutes) should self-quarantine and must abstain from NGS soccer activities for at least 14 days.
  • Athletes with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive diagnosis will be sent home and instructed to contact their healthcare provider. They will not be allowed to return to training until they are cleared by a healthcare provider. A doctor’s note must be provided.
  • If a team member or coach contracts COVID-19, all training and games sessions must be put on hold until written approval to continue is provided by NGS.
  • Parents are responsible for taking their daughters’ temperatures before arriving at the session.  Coaches may not take player temperatures.
  • If your daughter is sick (not COVID-19), she should stay home and skip practices or games. Kids should be symptom free for 72 hours before they return to soccer activities.
  • Wash hands before arriving at the field.  Once at the field, soap and water will not be available, so participants should have access to their own hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Players at high risk for developing severe illness should not participate in this program.

Participants, guardians, coaches, referees and other volunteers will wear face coverings, limit contact, and maintain physical distance.

Players and Coaches – Masks

  • NGS will be operating a 100% mask policy for all of our programs. All players must put their mask on before they arrive at the field, should wear it during the entire session and should not take it off until they return to their car or exit the field.
  • Players are permitted to pull down their masks only during high intensity aerobic activity or if medically necessary. If a player needs to take a “mask break” to catch her breath, take a drink or eat, she should be 6 feet away from other individuals. When handling her mask, a player should use the ear loops.
  • It is critical for coaches and players to keep open communication when players are competing while wearing masks. If a player is feeling lightheaded, dizzy or short of breath, she should take a socially distanced “mask break” and she should also come off the field if necessary. 
  • During soccer activities, players may only wear masks that loop over the ears. A mask or face covering that wraps around the head or head and neck (i.e. gaiter) will be considered dangerous equipment.
  • If conditions are so severe as to warrant masks too dangerous to wear, the practice or competition must be delayed, postponed or cancelled.
  • Coaches, staff, referees and other officials are required to wear face coverings and maintain social distance of 6 feet at all times.
  • If a team encounters a situation where the opposing team’s players are not wearing masks, the coach must abandon their team’s participation in the match out of concern that continuing the game may risk the players’ health and safety. The coach must follow the league’s procedure for abandoning a match.
  • Referees will consider the player’s wearing of a mask over the nose and mouth to be treated as required safety equipment, such as the wearing of a shin guard. Therefore, if a player is not wearing a mask properly, then the referee can request that the player fix the issue and if not rectified, send off the player until such time as the player is in compliance with this safety requirement.

Players and Coaches – Limiting contact

  • Handshakes, high 5’s, fist or elbow bumps and other physical contact are not allowed between player and coach or player and player.
  • Players will not share a bench on the sidelines during games. They should be spaced 6 feet apart while on the sidelines. They may bring their own chair.
  • Players may not share equipment. Each player must have their own ball, goalie glove, and pinnie. (NGS will supply the pinnies.)
  • We strongly encourage that goal keepers wear gloves as part of best health practices on the field. Sharing of gloves is not allowed. At times we do understand a player will be playing goal and not have gloves. The player is strongly cautioned not to touch their face with their hands at any time during the game.
  • Players must bring their own water bottle and may not share food or beverages. There will be no shared snacks at practices, game half-times, or after games.

Spectators

  • Spectators – even those who are vaccinated – must wear face coverings and maintain six feet of social distance at all times.
  • Spectators may observe a game 8 feet from the sideline or 15 feet behind the goal line. Spectators are not permitted to watch the game from the player’s side of the field.
  • There is no limit on the number of spectators allowed at a game, except as dictated by the space constraints of the viewing area. Family groups may sit together. Each spectator or family group must have enough space to sit 6′ away from the next unrelated individual or group.
  • If any NGS team at a home game encounters a situation where spectators are not following mask and social distancing rules in the vicinity (8 ft) of the field, the Coach or COVID-19 Team Manager will ask the person to follow the rules. For the safety of our community, anyone who cannot follow social distancing and mask rules will be asked to leave the field. If they do not not comply or leave, the coach must alert the referee and abandon their team’s participation in the match out of concern that continuing the game may risk the players’ health and safety. The coach must follow the league’s procedure for abandoning a match.
  • If a NGS travel or academy team at an away game encounters a situation where spectators are not following mask and social distancing rules in the vicinity (8 ft) of the field, the COVID-19 Team Manager must alert the coach. The coach must notify the opposing coach and referee of the concern. If the situation risks the players’ health and safety and cannot be resolved, the coach must abandon their team’s participation in the match. The coach must follow the league’s procedure for abandoning a match.
  • If a parent needs to talk with a coach, they should email to set up a time to talk on the phone.
Recommended Player Sideline Layout for Socially Distancing
All Players, Coaches, and Spectators MUST Wear a Mask

A limited number of people are permitted on and around the playing areas.

  • We have staggered practice and game times to avoid crowding. Do not arrive more than 5 minutes before your scheduled activity. If you arrive early, wait in the car. Incoming players should not enter the field until players from the earlier practice or game have left the area.  Leave immediately after your activity has ended.
  • Parents/guardians should not be on the field during practices, unless absolutely necessary. Parents/Guardians may drop off, remain in their vehicle, or stay six feet apart in the parking area. Parents are not to carpool or congregate near fields, parking, or other common areas.  Anyone who is in the vicinity of the field must wear face coverings at all times and stay 6 feet apart.
  • Spectator areas must allow for at least of 6’ feet of social distancing between all family units.
  • Spectators must follow all Mass Youth Soccer Guidelines.
  • For the safety of our community, anyone who cannot follow social distancing and mask rules will be asked to leave the field.
  • Each team may have a maximum of three coaches running a practice or sitting on the sidelines at a game. Teams with 3 coaches on the sideline during a game must divide up roles and responsibilities: 1 coach to help provide support to players on the field, 1 coach to organize subs, and 1 coach to provide feedback to players coming off the field. If a team has more than three coaches on the roster, they should take turns attending practices and games.

All NGS soccer activities – scrimmages, league play, practices, etc. – have been modified as necessary to follow guidelines set-out by Mass Youth Soccer.

  • Game modifications are no longer required as long as facial covering and social distancing rules are maintained.
  • Sportsmanship should continue in a touchless manner- no handshakes/slaps/fist bumps.

Rules will be communicated frequently and enforced.

  • Each team must have a designated COVID-19 Team Manager who is responsible for
    • Communicating COVID-19 policies with the team
    • Maintaining accurate attendance records for practices and games
    • Observing the sidelines at each game and alert the coach with any issues as they relate to COVID-19 policies (6-feet of physical distance at all times, wearing a mask, staying home if ill, one spectator per child).
  • The COVID manager may be a coach, assistant coach, team manager or another team parent or guardian.
  • If any NGS team at a home game encounters a situation where spectators are not following mask and social distancing rules in the vicinity (8 ft) of the field, the Coach or COVID-19 Team Manager will ask the person to follow the rules. For the safety of our community, anyone who cannot follow social distancing and mask rules will be asked to leave the field. If they do not not comply or leave, the coach must alert the referee and abandon their team’s participation in the match out of concern that continuing the game may risk the players’ health and safety. The coach must follow the league’s procedure for abandoning a match.
  • If a NGS travel or academy team at an away game encounters a situation where spectators are not following mask and social distancing rules in the vicinity (8 ft) of the field, the COVID-19 Team Manager must alert the coach. The coach must notify the opposing coach and referee of the concern. If the situation risks the players’ health and safety and cannot be resolved, the coach must abandon their team’s participation in the match. The coach must follow the league’s procedure for abandoning a match.
  • NGS has a designated COVID-19 Safety Officer – Shaun McBrien.

Post-session safety and sanitation practices are essential.

  • All participants are responsible for picking up and bringing home their own waste and belongings.  NGS will not maintain a lost and found.
  • All participants must clean and disinfect their own equipment and launder all clothing worn during the practice session.
  • Coaches will clean and disinfect any equipment used during practices or games.
  • Coaches will take attendance at all practices and games in case someone contracts the coronavirus and a trace is needed. If a participant contracts the virus they must inform the NGS COVID-19 Safety Officer. The NGS COVID-19 safety officer will report the case to the local department of health. Depending on the situation, we may need to ask exposed participants to quarantine for 14 days.

Red Zones

Weekly data from the MA Department of Public Health includes a breakdown of the total number of coronavirus cases in each Massachusetts city and town. The Massachusetts communities at highest risk for COVID-19 transmission are labeled Red Zones.

Scenario 1: Newton is designated a Red Zone by the Commonwealth of MA

  • If a parent does not feel comfortable having their child participate in a program located in a Red Zone, they have the choice to opt out. Our refund policy stands.
  • Travel and academy coaches will notify the opposing team if Newton is a Red Zone. If the opposing team does not feel comfortable having their team play against us, they may opt out. (Coaches must follow league procedures when cancelling a game.)  
  • If a game is cancelled due to Red Zone status and no additional restrictions are in place, the coach will make every effort to schedule an in-town practice or scrimmage instead.
  • Any other impact that Red Zone status has on NGS would come locally (i.e. Board of Health) and not from Mass Youth Soccer or the leagues.

Scenario 2: A NGS team is scheduled to play against a town that has been designated a Red Zone by the Commonwealth of MA.

  • If a NGS team is scheduled to play against a team from a town that has been designated as a Red Zone, our coach will notify the parents. If a parent does not feel comfortable having their child play, they may opt out. If a substantial number of players opt out, the game will be cancelled. (Coaches must follow league procedures when cancelling a game.)  
  • If a game is cancelled due to Red Zone status, the coach will make every effort to schedule an in-town practice or scrimmage instead.
REPORT A COVID-19 CASE

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