This update may also be downloaded and printed as a PDF (4 pages)
Because of the COVID-19 situation, the JSA reached out to our member junior programs in late March, as reported here. We’ve started to do that again, to understand the current planning for this summer. As we continue to learn more from our junior programs, we will regularly compile what we learn, and then share with all of you. This late April update had 19 junior programs responding to inquiries by JSA board members designated for each geographic region. To simplify getting input from additional JSA programs, the April questions have been added to an online survey that may be viewed here.
JSA board representatives have also been having discussions with US Sailing, and other regional sailing associations, to share the information provided by our JSA community. Those other organizations have likewise provided input about their planning for safe operations of youth activities this summer.
Health and safety:
JSA believes that the health and safety of your junior sailors, and of your staff & volunteers, will be paramount this summer. Various protocols are being discussed by the programs, but have not yet been finalized, as they await official guidelines from state and local governments.
However, the CDC recently drafted interim guidance about how organizations may safely reopen to the public, and states have published guidelines for youth services like childcare and camps. Some sports and camping organizations have also been developing guidelines (at the end of this report are links to some of those guidelines). JSA recommends those guidelines be reviewed now by each member junior sailing program to help understand how safe operating procedures may ultimately be defined.
Examples of health and safety responses from the JSA member programs are listed below, by topic:
– Physical distancing:
All options are on the table to continue practicing social distancing, with increased health and safety measures. This includes smaller class sizes for single person boats, dropping multi-person-in-boat classes for younger children, requiring instructors and children to wear facial covering while in the boat storage or launch area where it would be impossible to stay 6 feet apart, and daily temperature checks for staff.; Fewer people inside and most people outside, so no sailing on rainy days.; Four plans being considered: Staggered arrival times, Half day sessions max of 20 children AM and 20 children PM, Small private / group lessons on a flex schedule, or Cancel the program.; Launch service will have maximum of 2 passengers at a time because limited by size of launch.; Staggered start times, small groups that don’t associate with one another, debrief circles bigger than usual.; Reducing class sizes to 8 kids and 2 instructors.; Will need to create more outdoor alternatives in order to provide extra spacing.; Because of current low registration, we already have smaller classes.; Decreased ratios of kids per instructors.; One or more of the following: reduced number of participants per day, half day programs, no lunch, no double handed sailing except when sailors are siblings or living in same household, and semi private scheduled lessons.; Some families are planning on sending multiple kids from the same family and so double handed sailing in these cases could be allowed.; Modify rigging processes by keeping Optis on dollies to avoid the need for groups to put on and off racks.; We will break kids up into smaller groups, use multiple club launching areas to spread sailors/groups out, stagger arrival/launch times, and provide multiple indoor club meeting spaces to spread out into smaller groups.; Biggest challenge to running our Opti regatta will be the large number of participants, parents, coaches, and volunteers gathering on shore. So we think the size of such regattas will need to be limited.
– Personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation:
Planning to use neck gaiters with UV protection (washable/reusable) for kids and staff; We hope that as a society people will supply their own face masks and gloves, but we are planning to have back up face masks and gloves.; Washing hands regularly and extra hand sanitizer stations.; Hand sanitizer will be abundantly available.; Frequent wash down of common areas, bathrooms and lunch areas (additional staff may be needed to do that cleaning).; Providing gloves/masks to all instructors, sanitizing stations around the clubhouse and outside the junior sailing office.; Planning to have instructors wear masks, but unsure if practical because it’s difficult to communicate through a mask.; We’ll install hand sanitizer stations on dock ramps.
– Monitoring for symptoms:
Daily temperature checks for staff and self reporting if exhibiting any common symptoms. We pulled together a task force including our board, a medical professional and lawyer to develop our program’s policy. There are HIPPA and legal ramifications around privacy that must be considered. If an instructor or sailor tests positive, we are also thinking through what should be communicated to the entire club membership, as well as our policy around pausing classes for a set period of time.; Probably will have a volunteer do temperature and symptom checks daily for all staff and participants.; The director of junior activities will monitor, and if any infections are detected, we will follow state guidelines, e.g., send the person home and shut down the facility for the designated time period; We are hoping that rapid testing will be ready in June so that we can make a point of informing the parents that the entire staff has been checked for COVID-19
Programming options and decision process:
The timeline for decisions on how to operate the junior programs ranges from mid- or late-May, to mid- or late-June, depending on the specific program. Examples of responses: Planning for normal 8 weeks with no change, or normal 8 weeks but with no travel regattas, or shortened season (7,6,5,4 weeks with or without regattas), or no season at all.; Waiting on additional guidance from state and hoping to modify what other sports are doing. We think singlehanded Lasers will be very popular this summer.; If we have to postpone we can do that for two weeks, and still get in an eight week program because Labor Day is later this year.; We will wait until June 1st to make decisions.; Hoping to have a full summer program beginning on June 22nd as originally scheduled, provided our state guidelines for phase 2 go as expected.; Meeting in late April to review proposed alternate plans. We will be able to get the program started in less than one week after we get permission from the government.; We are cautiously waiting for mid-May to announce our program plans based on the latest state and local guidance at that time. We are planning to start on June 29 this year and run 8 weeks.; Mid May is our next decision point, based on NY and CT state directives.; No hard time line communicated as of yet given the uncertainty and daily update on information, state policy decisions and data.
Impact on junior program enrollment and reaction by families:
The impact varies widely: some programs have had a significant reduction in enrollment since last year, registration at others remains unchanged, and a few programs have seen much greater interest for this summer. Most have extended their closing date for registration into mid May or later. In addition, policies are being established by many programs to offer full refunds of prepaid fees to families in the event of a shorter or cancelled program. Examples of responses: This has been our best year ever for registration; Families have all expressed continued interest in program.; Registration was opened in mid-January and was basically complete by early March at 195 students, which is more or less in line with past years.; Not seeing any lack of interest from sailors or parents.; We are currently planning to open registration in mid-May because our sailing programs typically do not start until late June.; We expect our typical small enrollment, only 8-10 students, because we serve a very small population.; We could be down by about 25% or we could be up quite a lot depending upon what other programs are doing – if other summer programs like baseball leagues don’t operate then we could be inundated.; We are down significantly and have received only 5 registrations since lockdown.; We have not yet sent out our registration package – probably will send in mid May.; Our usual practice is to just leave registration open with no end date, but with late fee charged.; We encourage anyone interested to register now so we can start planning, but are thinking about a policy that would allow families more flexibility to drop a class up until the start date.; We will refund program fees 100% if the program cannot operate due to circumstances beyond our control.; Probably about 10-15% up on last year.; Very low enrollment, with only 4 new registrations since mid-March.; Looks like we may have 20-30 kids more than last year because regional sailing will be a thing, and the kids will be able to sleep at home every night.; Our parents definitely want the program to open if it all possible.; Families remain interested and appear to be in a wait and see mode.; Sailing programs will be a good alternative if summer camps are closed.; We plan to send an outreach email to sailing families at the beginning of May sharing our plans for health and safety assuming we are allowed to run classes this summer.; Our parents are silent and not registered – we suspect they are waiting for the flattening of the outbreak and further decisions on school plans, work stability, and general health of the population before committing financial resources to our program.
Effect on instructor hiring:
Many of the programs have completed their hiring. However, modifications may be needed if more sailors register than expected, if foreign instructors cannot travel and need to be replaced, or if a program is unable to operate at expected enrollment because of the pandemic effects. Examples of responses: All Instructors were hired prior to the start of the pandemic; All are local hires so no problem with travel from outside our area.; All our foreign hires expect to return, but travel will depend on what is allowed (unknown if 14 days quarantine will be necessary on arrival – visas and ticketing are in place).; No trouble getting instructors, probably easier than normal given students not expecting to travel.; We may end up needing more staff than usual given need for distancing, smaller group size, etc.; We stay in contact with our head instructor who in turn texts the others to let them all know that the program is still planning on running the regularly scheduled start date. We’ll still want to receive appropriate certifications and recertifications that our program will reimburse (it’s our cost of doing business to maintain our work force).; One instructor from the UK is unable to come, and two first year instructors may be delayed in getting certifications.; We have five instructors from last year, all fully trained and ready.; We are proceeding as if we are going to have our two paid staff onboard this summer.; We have been in contact with all of our prospective instructors for the summer. The majority are from the local area and remain committed to working with us.; Instructors understand that the job is contingent on government permission. If we don’t open they will not get paid.; Discussions have started with overseas staff about their employment for summer being contingent on our club members still being able to provide housing, and that travel to the US is allowed.; A scaled down staffing model has been discussed with our head instructor to receive their support and insight.; Started to explore hiring of local staff to replace overseas staff in the event they cannot come to the US this summer.; There are a couple of our staff that require housing locally, which may be more difficult now.; We have one foreign coach and are working with them individually – will not fill the position if they cannot come.
The responding JSA program sites have been closed since mid-March, and are expected to remain closed through mid May per orders from the states of CT and NY (some have made curbside pickup available for meals). However, exceptions exist that allow marine maintenance and personal recreational boating, so at many sites the docks and moorings are being put into place, and members may access their boats. Examples of responses: Club is open to work on boats, one person per boat and all must wear masks.; Members may access their boats via the dock or use their own dinghy.; Launch service will start in early May.; Launch procedures may likely be one launch driver with max two people from same household going to same boat all in masks and gloves.; Launch pick-up and drop-off will be in separate locations.
Safe Operating Resources Links:
– CDC has drafted interim guidance about how organizations may safely reopen to the public as described in this CNN article (schools and camps are on pages 4-6 of the seventeen page guide). The interim guide seems to be based on the existing CDC guidelines for K-12 schools that may be read here.
– The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood resource has youth camp memos available:
Memo 15 Reduced-Group-Size-and-Enhanced-Health-Procedures
Memo 18 Youth-Camp-Guidance
– New York State Department of Health has procedures for handling outbreaks at camps.
– The American Camping Association and the YMCA of the USA are evaluating and clarifying health standards for camps this summer, which may be viewed here.
– The Aspen Institute’s Project Play has an article that describes the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s plans for “return to play” in five phases.
– The NCAA has put together nine principles to help guide college sports institutions that are contained in the document, “Resocialization in Sport” that puts first the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes.
[above inks are active at April 30]