Belpre Soccer Club developing COVD-19 rules

BELPRE — The Belpre Soccer Club is moving forward with formulating a COVID-19 protection plan for its fields and spectators after having to delay the start of its season last week following new orders given by state officials.

An order came out from the State of Ohio on Aug. 19 regarding youth sports and safety guidelines in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic which have to be followed to allow sports to be played, said Tia Shackleford, the Belpre Soccer Club’s (BSC) COVID Compliance Officer.

“There are some protocols that are required to ensure that youth sports can operate safely,” she said. “We had postponed our opening day to ensure we are adhering to those requirements down at the fields (off Washington Blvd behind Wendy’s).

“It has just been postponed a week at this point.”

The BSC Board has been working on developing a plan and communicating the plans and requirements to the patrons, participants and coaches.

“We are working to make sure we are complying with that order in the State of Ohio,” Shackleford said. “It is different for West Virginia.”

On a Facebook post to those involved in the Belpre Soccer Club, the BSC Board said it is immediately instituting guidelines to adhere with the order to promote the safety of the club patrons and to ensure the best likelihood of a successful continuation of the 2020 fall season.

“Socially distancing should be observed at all times,” the post said. “Please space out at least 6 feet from other patrons (not in your immediate family) when sitting or standing at the fields including at all common areas (concessions/rest rooms).

“Masks must be worn by all spectators, athletes, coaches, refs, and volunteers when at the fields. Exceptions are granted for athletes actively engaged on the field of play, for coaches and refs when directly instructing players at practices/games, and for anyone who meets the standard CDC health exemptions. Masks for children under the age of 10 are not mandatory, but highly encouraged.”

Symptom assessments should be conducted by all spectators, athletes, coaches, refs, and volunteers prior to reporting to the fields for any activity, the post said. If COVID-19 symptoms are present, all members are asked to remain at home and forgo any league activities until he/she is symptom free for a minimum of three days.

All coaches and refs are required to take COVID-19 educational training and promote good hygiene for all players, the post said, adding signs will be posted around the fields promoting social distancing, mask requirements, and healthy hygiene protocol.

Concessions will adhere to the State of Ohio COVID-19 protocol for restaurants/bars, the post said.

Equipment sharing will be restricted and pre/post game contact is forbidden (individual pinnies must be used, and no hand shaking will be allowed) and hand sanitizer and/or hand washing stations will be provided to all patrons to promote healthy hygiene, the post said.

“We are currently working to make sure our grounds are in compliance,” Shackleford said.

Currently, they are scheduled to resume play Saturday.

“We have to make sure everything is in order, Shackleford said. “If there are any additional changes we would communicate that to all of the clubs.”

As of now, they are planning to move forward on Saturday.

Anne Goon, Marietta-Belpre Health Commissioner, said some of the issues now involve an outside area where people can come and bring folding chairs or watch from the sidelines, the organizers had to submit requests to deal with that.

There were rules regarding fixed seating and variants that could be asked for regarding more seating.

“So the thing with the Belpre soccer league is they don’t have fixed seating,” Goon said. “They have submitted their variance request, but it also requires a written operations plan.”

She said Belpre Soccer has submitted plans. However, she had additional questions on some aspects of it and is awaiting a response, she said Wednesday.

“After I find that they meet all of the requirements in the order, I approve it and I forward that onto the state health department,” Goon said. “The state health department also has to approve it before the venue can go forward.”

She is currently awaiting some more responses so she can verify the number of spectators they are requesting is at the appropriate level.

“I have to be able to demonstrate that to the state,” Goon said. “Once I have that I can finish reviewing the proposal and determine if I can approve it or determine what need to be done so I can approve it so I can forward it to the state.”

This is the second week of the process being in place. The guidelines were provided to the state health commissioners last week.

Goon said they have been hearing back from the state within a couple of days, but that could change as more requests are being sent in. She is hoping to be talking to state officials soon about what people can expect.

She said the state’s part of the process does not have a defined time period for how long it will take.

“They may need to further delay their schedule if we can’t get that response back before their next set of games,” Goon said.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com


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