County releases new COVID guidance for youth sports, extracurriculars

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Yolo County released additional guidance on sports and extracurricular activities for both public and private K-12 schools as well as youth-serving organizations on Sept. 9.

The supplemental guidance released by Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson aims to fill in the gaps in the state’s guidance for indoor activities at schools, using recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on testing, masks, vaccination, ventilation, isolation, off-the-field gatherings, spectators and more.

“Sports and extracurricular activities are important for the health and well being of young people, but extra precautions are needed to keep participants safe during the current COVID-19 surge,” Sisson said. “Activities should be moved outdoors whenever possible, participants should be tested regularly, and only fully vaccinated persons should engage in the highest risk activities.

“Close contact sports and indoor sports are particularly risky. Similar risks might exist for other extracurricular activities, such as band, choir, theater, and school clubs that meet indoors.”

In high-transmission communities (which includes Yolo County) the CDC actually recommends that all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities be canceled or held virtually unless all participants are fully vaccinated. When transmission drops from “high” to “substantial,” all participants in high-risk sports and activities should test twice per week, according to the CDC.

High-risk sports include all indoor sports and any outdoor sports where either masks cannot be worn or sustained close contact occurs between participants along with increased exhalation. Such sports include basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, water polo and wrestling.

High-risk extracurriculars include those where increased exhalation occurs, including cheer, dance, drill team, choir, band and similar activities conducted indoors. When moved outdoors, these activities become low- to intermediate-risk. Indoor activities such as robotics, chess and academic decathlon are considered low- to intermediate-risk.

The CDC recommends that participants in low- and intermediate-risk sports and extracurricular activities test at least once per week.

As for isolation and quarantine, Sisson’s guidance is that whenever a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified among participants in a sport or extracurricular activity, all unvaccinated close contacts should quarantine and get tested. Any vaccinated close contacts should also get tested, though they are not required to quarantine.

Youth who test positive for COVID-19 cannot participate in sports or extracurricular activities until they have completed their isolation period of at least 10 days from when their symptoms began or their positive test was collected if they had no symptoms.

Recent state guidance for K-12 schools allows students who were wearing a mask when they came into close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 at school to continue in-person learning if they are tested for COVID-19 twice a week. However, students in this modified quarantine protocol are not permitted to participate in extracurricular activities, whether school-based or in the community, according to the county.

Sisson’s guidance also notes that many cases of COVID-19 associated with youth sports and extracurricular activities are transmitted not on the playing field but during team gatherings, such as meals or celebrations or during shared transportation to practices and competitions.

“Team meals and in-person celebrations are discouraged, as are carpools,” her guidance states.

The supplemental guidance also recommends that unvaccinated participants wear a mask during outdoor activities when they are not able to maintain six feet of distance from others. Masks continue to be required for everyone in school-based and non-school-based indoor sports and extracurricular activities, as required by the state and Sisson’s order for universal indoor masking.

To read the full Youth Sports and Extracurricular Activities Supplemental Guidance, visit

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