COVID Resources and Modifications Spring 2021

The safety of our communities is our main concern. Every player, coach, referee, and spectator is required to adhere to all published guidelines and protocols, including all revisions made available, from the federal, state, or local government, as well as MA Youth Soccer, MSRC, BAYS, and town soccer organizations.

Spring 2021 brings us almost back to how we played and administered the game pre-pandemic.  For the Spring season, there have been a relaxation of many of the stringent protocols put in place for the fall season. The current season modifications are summarized below.

Important Links

  • Mass Youth Soccer COVID Hub contains the latest information LINK 
    • Latest Soccer protocol LINK 
    • COVID Reporting and Notification Process LINK 

Summary of Current COVID Modifications:

  • Players (and coaches/referees/spectators) are required to wear face coverings.
    • The default expectation is that face coverings remain in place over the player's nose and mouth DURING play and on the sidelines when not having a water/mask break.
    • The only type of face covering permissible for players is the ear-looped style face covering. No neck gaiters or vented masks.
    • Players can have a documented medical exemption from the mask requirement. Clubs have special notice requirements in this situation. See FAQ 3 below.
      • Player mask exemption is only valid during active play. When on sidelines, all players must wear masks.
  • Spectators must wear masks AT ALL TIMES, even for those vaccinated (per Mass Youth Soccer guidelines).
    • Spectators must keep at least 8 ft from the field or team sideline areas if possible.
    • Limit on number of spectators per player has been removed.
    • Field spectator capacity is now related to availability of 6 ft spacing for family groups.
    • Family groups must stay together, i.e. children from different family groups should not congregate.
  • Each team is required to have a COVID-19 Safety Coordinator while on the field. These adults are responsible for team and spectator compliance with the guidelines.
    • If COVID guidelines are not being followed by a team or spectators, the COVID Safety Coordinators should step in to address the situation and request/mandate compliance.
    • Referees are NOT responsible for enforcing COVID protocols for spectators or coaches/teams on the sideline
  • Referees ARE responsible for ensuring players wear masks while on the field of play.
    • 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 can have a documented medical exemption from the mask requirement. Clubs have special notice requirements in this situation. See FAQ 3 below.
      • Player mask exemption is only valid during active play. When on sidelines, all players must wear masks.
  • Player cards are not required for ANY BAYS teams this spring for the BAYS regular season or BAYS playoffs.
    • Should MTOC happen, player cards may be required for participating teams at that time.
  • Coaches for an upcoming match MUST contact each other by no later than Wednesday.
    • Confirm understanding that specific home town rules apply. Home town rules affected by town BOH restrictions need to be communicated to opponents ASAP.
    • Confirm game arrival time as there may be restrictions.
  • Game rescheduling parameters and forfeit rules/fines per the BAYS Rules are in effect (some COVID issues warrant extensions)
    • Playing the Schedule per the BAYS Rules is important, and efforts should be made to play all games.
      • Note to keep in mind for make up scheduling: Teams may play two different opponents in the same day.
    • A club or team should NOT unilaterally choose to postpone a match against teams when their TOWN is "red".
    • Teams are not towns, and the decision to play or postpone should be made at the TEAM level. We treat all member organizations the same, without any judgment based on the status level of the town/city they reside in. If a parent feels uncomfortable with their child playing a team from a red town, they have the choice to opt out of the game. If enough parents opt out, this may cause the team to forfeit according to BAYS rules.
  • Games that are canceled or postponed due to a team that has a COVID quarantine issue have an extended make-up window of 5 weeks.
    • The Division Director will assign a no game (NG) status if a game cannot be played because one of the teams has insufficient players due to compliance with COVID quarantine guidelines. NG will be removed if the game can be made up within five(5) weeks. Teams should work to reschedule the game as soon as the quarantine restriction has been removed.
  • Coaches can file Game Feedback reports in BAYS to alert the appropriate people to certain situations. Feedback can be positive or negative:
    • COVID Concern Feedback - Goes to both involved Club Presidents and BAYS Officials
    • Sportsmanship Feedback - Goes to both involved Club Presidents and BAYS Officials
    • Referee Feedback - Goes to the home town referee assignor and BAYS Officials

 

Answers to frequently asked questions

  1. What to do if your team feels unsafe during a match?

If no acceptable remedies to your concerns are made, your only option is to notify the center referee that you will be abandoning the match and pull the team from the field and observing social distancing proceed to leave the field and venue. If it is a non-COVID-19 concern, the usual rules about pulling a team are to be used. If you have a concern about COVID-19 protocols of the opposing team, your team COVID safety coordinator should communicate with the opponent's COVID safety coordinator to see if the situation can be remedied. 

  1. Pre-Kickoff Communications

BAYS requests that the head coaches or team managers of the upcoming weekend's opponents contact each other by phone or email as early as possible in the week before the match to apprise each other of any additional restrictions on the match (usually mandated by the local board of health) confirm that to the best of their knowledge they are COVID-19 free, any mask exempt individuals and any other details. Should the match need to be postponed, ensure that the Division Director and Home Referee Assignor are made aware that the match won’t be played. 

Confirm the kick off time and the earliest a team can arrive at the venue (making allowance for previous users to have left before your team arrives) . Also identify your team COVID coordinator. This is also the time to request your copy of the opposing team roster as one will not be provided at the field. 

Upon arrival at the field with the social distancing observed, the head coaches and team covid safety officers should identify themselves to the opposing team and referee.

  1. Are there any different requirements if a team from my organization has a mask exempt player?

BAYS wants these issues to be discussed during the preseason to avoid game time disruptions. BAYS does not want games to be canceled on the field after teams have traveled or there to be stress related to the mask exempt player being present. 

  • First, clubs are responsible for verifying that the player’s mask exemption is documented by a medical professional per state guidelines. 
  • Then, to avoid issues at game time, BAYS is asking clubs to contact all the opponent clubs (not the teams) that the team with the mask exempt player is scheduled to play to let the Club officials know about the situation. Clubs need to share the jersey number of their player with the documented mask exemption so that referees can be notified.
  • Opponent clubs then need to make a decision to play or not to play the games. 
    • Clubs should contact their own Board of Health to make sure that a player with a documented mask exemption will be allowed to play in their town or against their town. 
    • Clubs should also make sure that their own coaches and team are aware of the issue and willing to play against a mask exempt player. 
    • If the decision to not play is made, the game will be marked as a No Game (NG) and the game will not count in standings nor any forfeit fees be assessed.
  • Opponent clubs must also notify any referees who will be working that game. Since referees are being required to treat the mask as a required piece of player safety equipment, all the referees should be informed of a particular player's documented mask exemption and be provided the player's name and jersey number.
  • If referees cannot be found by the opponent club who are willing to work a game with a mask exempt player, than the game field site should be swapped to the home town of the mask exempt player and both of the season’s games played there. This would allow the game to be played when it otherwise could not have been played due to a lack of willing referees.
  1. Is the Make-up time window different this spring?

We have reverted to the standard 3 week window with one exception. Should a team be quarantined, the make up window for those games postponed is extended to 5 weeks. For quarantined teams there becomes the possibility for two teams to do a doubleheader - play two games between each other provided there is not more than a 15 minute gap between games. It needs to be the same two teams at the same venue. Note if there is an MTOC (should be announced in early May) all games that have a bearing on the playoffs must be completed by the final Saturday in the season. Contact your division director if you have questions.

  1. What do we do if the weather is bad - heavy rain or inclement weather etc.

BAYS follows the guidance given in the MYSA section on protective equipment - "If conditions are so severe as to warrant masks too dangerous to wear, the competition must be delayed, postponed or cancelled. If the weather is bad for games follow the guidance above.  The coach, like any other safety hazard like lightning, may point out to the referee that they believe continuing the match is a safety hazard to the players due to masks being worn in this weather.  For a practice session or other team activity, tailor the exertion level to what is safe for the players or cancel the session. 

  1. What do I do if my concern is not addressed?

Pose the question to the group you believe will be able to answer the question. Your club will have a President and a COVID Safety officer who should be able to answer local questions or refer you to the proper authority. At BAYS, the President is Tony Loftis, COVID Safety Officer is David Dalrymple, Referee Directors Gesse Faber and Mark Plecinoga. At MYSA, COVID-19 questions should be directed to Tamie Endow. Non-COVID-19 questions may go to Executive Director Mike Borislow.