Last updated 9/15/2021

All individuals participating in Special Olympics New Jersey activities are strongly recommended and encouraged to be vaccinated, though not required. The vaccination is recommended for athletes and volunteers, including coaches and Unified partners:

Guiding Principles

    1. The health and safety of all members of the Special Olympics New Jersey community is paramount.
    2. Participation is completely optional, and we respect, understand and fully support anyone who is unable to or uncomfortable returning to practice.
    3. Anyone considered high risk (per the High Risk Waiver) must read the information on these pages.
    4. Guidance is based on current medical information and state guidelines at the time of publication and is subject to change as guidance evolves. 

Health and Safety Guidelines

Expand each for full details

Groupings/Social Distancing Clarifications

*Guidelines subject to change based on New Jersey state guidelines and venue rules and regulations. 

  • Social distancing of at least three (3) feet shall always be maintained between all individuals on-site. Social distancing can limit the spread of COVID-19 by lowering the risk of transmission.
  • The number of INDOOR/OUTDOOR groups will be limited by current state, facility and SONJ guidelines.
Mask Compliance
  • Regardless of Vaccination Status, masks are strongly encouraged, but not required, for athletes and Unified partners during active participation as per updated safety and medical guidance.
  • Masks are required for all participants during non-active participation (e.g. on field sideline, staging area, awards, etc.).
  • Coaches, volunteers, and staff must wear a mask at all times for OUTDOOR and INDOOR activities.
  • All Young Athletes participants must wear a mask at all times.
  • SONJ additional OUTDOOR activities: masks are required except during vigorous activity.
  • SONJ additional INDOOR activities: must wear a mask at all times. This includes gymnasiums, bowling alleys, pool decks, etc.
  • If spectators are permitted to attend events:
    • For OUTDOOR events, they will not be required to wear a mask if social distancing can be maintained. However, it is required that a mask be worn for unvaccinated individuals.
    • For INDOOR events, they will be required to wear a mask at all times.
Pre-Event Guidelines

Please become familiar with these guidelines and resources below.

  • Work with SONJ Staff to find a facility that will:
    • Accommodate your group while ensuring health and safety guidelines are met.
    • Ensure there is a designated space to isolate ill participants including tape, cones, or chairs indicating where to sit. This space should be at least twenty (20) feet from the main practice area where the rest of the participants will be gathered.
  • Prior to your first group activity establish a plan for safe practice, which includes access to personal protective equipment (PPE) (see "During Event Guidelines")
  • Maintain a master list with contact information for all athletes, coaches, and volunteers. Communicate these guidelines to participants and families in advance and strongly encourage athletes to bring personal equipment (i.e. sport-specific equipment, water bottle, etc.)
  • Complete the online High-Risk Waiver & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver. By completing these forms, all participants are acknowledging that they have received education materials regarding the virus and confirm understanding of the risks and participation procedures.
    • All participants must complete the High-Risk Waiver (if applicable) & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver before participating. Failure to complete the COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver will result in no in-person participation.
    • High Risk Waiver & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver
  • Complete the online Communicable Diseases Waiver. By completing this form, all participants are acknowledging that they understand the potential risk of exposure during activity.
    • All participants must complete the Communicable Diseases Waiver. Failure to complete the Communicable Diseases Waiver will result in no in-person participation.
    • Communicable Diseases Waiver 
  • Complete the online COVID-19 Vaccination Questionnaire. This form is used for data collection purposes and will not prohibit participation with Special Olympics New Jersey, unless venue guidelines specify otherwise.
  • Display Social Distancing, Mask Compliance, and Directional Signage at all events.
  • Designate an isolation area at least twenty (20) feet from the practice area in the event of illness and sanitize equipment.
  • Equipment sanitation best practices are outlined in the Additional Coach Resources.
During Event Guidelines
  • Masks are strongly encouraged, but not required, for athletes and Unified partners during active participation as per updated safety and medical guidance.
  • Masks are required for all participants during non-active participation (e.g. on field sideline, staging area, awards, etc.).
  • Coaches, volunteers, and staff must wear a mask at all times for OUTDOOR and INDOOR activities.
  • All Young Athletes participants must wear a mask at all times.
  • SONJ additional OUTDOOR activities: masks are required except during vigorous activity.
  • SONJ additional INDOOR activities: must wear a mask at all times.
  • If spectators are permitted to attend events:
    • For OUTDOOR events, they will not be required to wear a mask if social distancing can be maintained. However, it is required that a mask be worn for unvaccinated individuals.
    • For INDOOR events, they will be required to wear a mask at all times.

Social Distancing

  • Avoid activities that are not conducive to physical distancing of at least three (3) feet
  • Items to indicate physical spacing are encouraged (pool noodle, cones, string, etc.)
  • Avoid utilizing shared equipment and regularly clean equipment if anything is shared
  • Spectators, if present, should be in a pre-determined designated Spectator Area. They must remain at least three (3) feet from other spectators and twenty-five (25) feet from participants.

Additional Information

  • Swim programs must practice with no more than three (3) athletes per lane.

If Someone Becomes Ill during an SONJ Activity (Competition or Practice)

  • Direct individual to an isolation area, which should be at least twenty-five (25) feet from the rest of the group and keep him/her there until they are able to safely leave.
  • Should the illness result in a positive case of Covid-19, please notify Jeff Baldino, jjb@sonj.orgor 609.896.8000 x252

Food & Beverages

  • All participants must bring their own beverages and water bottles must not be shared.
  • Hydration stations (water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized.
  • Do not share snacks and avoid snack breaks or meals during practice and events. All social distancing recommendations should be followed during any breaks.
Post-Event Guidelines
  • Clean and sanitize any and all equipment after each practice or event (i.e. soccer balls, cones, distance markers, equipment bags, etc.)
  • Equipment sanitation best practices are outlined in the Additional Coach Resources.
  • Athletes/family members should be instructed to clean and sanitize all personal equipment before and after practice as well
Protocols for reporting if someone becomes Ill with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or has been notified that they have been or may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Must notify Jeff Baldino, jjb@sonj.org or 609.896.8000 x252

Fall Season Timeline

Updated 8/4/21

September 2021 to October 2021 Activities Timeline

  • September 2021 (dates subject to change)
    • Fall competition begins on September 11th
    • Includes Cycling, Equestrian, Flag Football, Soccer, Triathlon, & Youth Athletes
    • Approved Out of Season requests (OUTDOORS and INDOORS)

Fall Activities

Visit the Fall sport pages for full details.


All participants are required to fill out the High Risk Waiver & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Wavier and the Communicable Diseases Waiver.  Please only fill out the following forms ONCE:

High Risk Waiver & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver

Communicable Diseases Waiver


COVID-19 Vaccine Information

In a continual effort to provide the latest information, SONJ will provide links to answer some of the questions you may have regarding the vaccines. This is NOT an endorsement or suggestion that you get the vaccine. All decisions should be made individually with the advice of your family and your physician.  The information below has been compiled from Federal, State and local agencies, and organizations that support individuals with intellectual disabilities.

COVID-19 Vaccine Form & FAQs


More Information

Be sure to watch our Return to Activity Videos to learn more about venue preparation, traveling to activities, and coaching adjustments.

Watch Videos


Special Olympics New Jersey’s (SONJ) goal is to make informed decisions in the best interest of all participants. SONJ will continue to evaluate the Return to Activity plan as currently constructed and provide updates with more details when they are available. All decisions were made with the safety of all participants at the forefront. As such, all safety measures and protocols are being created following the recommendations and guidelines of Special Olympics Inc., the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the State of New Jersey. These safety measures and protocols will be required and monitored throughout the season.