COVID-19 Updates & Guidelines

Current Status

May 19, 2021 – On May 17, the Commonwealth of MA updated the EEA COVID-19 safety standards for youth and adult amateur sports activities to align with CDC and WHO research-based recommendations. The most impactful change was to relax mask guidelines. Subsequently, the Mass Youth Soccer Association updated its rules.

NGS has been closely following the rapidly evolving developments around mask requirements and has integrated these standards into our safety guidelines and practices. (See below.) Protocols are updated as information changes. Please understand that NGS is not setting COVID protocols in isolation. All measures are developed

1. in compliance with the MA Youth Soccer Association (MYSA), which gets their guidance from the Commonwealth of MA EEA, and
2. in consultation with the Newton Health and Human Services Department.

MYSA is our local governance body and carries our insurance, therefore NGS is obligated to align its protocols with MYSA policies when it comes to health and safety issues. We trust that their decisions are based on sound data and are made in the best interest of our children and volunteers.

KEY CHANGES TO NGS MASK USE POLICY (Effective Wednesday, May 19, 2021.)

All policies apply regardless of vaccination status.

Youth Participants, including Players and Referees, 18 and under

  • Players are not required to wear a mask outdoors while entering/exiting the field area, on the sideline, or in a huddle if proper social distance is maintained. If 6′ of social distance cannot be maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Masks are not required outdoors when actively on the field of play, engaged in soccer or officiating a game.
  • Youth participants may continue to wear a mask while playing soccer at their parents’ discretion.

Adult Participants, including Players, Referees, and Coaches, 19 and over

  • Masks are not required outdoors while entering/exiting the field area, officiating a game, coaching, on the sideline, or in a huddle if proper social distance is maintained.  If 6′ of social distance cannot be continually maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Players aged 19 years and older must wear a face covering while actively playing outdoor soccer since social distancing cannot be continually maintained. A  player may remove their mask to catch their breath when they are out of proximity of other players (at least 6’).

Spectators, any age

  • Masks are not required outdoors when entering/exiting the field area, seated in the spectator viewing area, or in common areas when 6’ of social distancing cannot be maintained.  If this distance cannot be maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Family units from the same household do not need to distance from each other. 

It is important to note that relaxing outdoor mask rules does not negate other important COVID-19 protocols:
1. Parents may set more restrictive face covering guidelines for their child, if they so choose. The NGS community will support and respect all individuals who choose to continue wearing masks.
2. All Players, Coaches, Referees, and Spectators are still expected to practice social distancing (6′ or more) when entering / exiting the field, on the sidelines, in the spectator viewing area or in other common areas.
3. Players, Coaches, Referees, and Spectators must NOT participate in NGS activities if they have ANY symptoms or close exposure to a positive case of COVID-19.

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.

Contact Us

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 (May 18 update).

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, coaches and officials 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 (when appropriate), limit contact, and maintain physical distance.

Players, Coaches, Referees and Other Officials – Masks

  • Youth Players, Coaches, Referees, and other Officials are not required to wear masks outdoors while entering/exiting the field area, actively on the field of play, officiating a game, coaching, on the sideline, or in a huddle if proper social distance is maintained.  If 6′ of social distance cannot be continually maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Players aged 19 years and older must wear a face covering while actively playing outdoor soccer since social distancing cannot be continually maintained. A player may remove their mask to catch their breath when they are out of proximity of other players (at least 6’).
  • Youth participants may continue to wear a mask while playing soccer at their parents’ discretion.
  • If wearing a mask 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.

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

  • Masks are not required outdoors when entering/exiting the field area, seated in the spectator viewing area, or in common areas when 6’ of social distancing cannot be maintained.  If this distance cannot be maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Spectators – even those who are vaccinated – must maintain six feet of social distance at all times. Family units from the same household do not need to distance from each other. 
  • 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

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. 
  • 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
  • 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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