Last updated 12/2/2021

All individuals participating in Special Olympics New Jersey activities are strongly recommended and encouraged to be vaccinated, though not required for training, league and area competition. The vaccination is required for athletes, coaches, Unified partners and volunteers in order to participate in Sectional and State competitions.

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

Mask mandates updated to include indoor winter/spring activities  

  • Regardless of Vaccination Status, masks are required in all INDOOR activities, for athletes and Unified partners during active participation as per updated safety and medical guidance with the following exception:
    • Floor Hockey: masks are strongly encouraged to be worn at all times except when the safety of the athletes may be compromised such as on the court during play. Masks are required immediately prior to and after shifts.
    • Volleyball: masks are strongly encouraged to be worn at all times except when the safety of the athletes may be compromised such as on the court during play. Masks are required immediately prior to and after shifts.
    • Basketball: masks are strongly encouraged to be worn at all times except when the safety of the athletes may be compromised such as on the court during play. Masks are required immediately prior to and after on court play.
    • Bowling: Masks are required to be worn at all times.
  • 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.
  • 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 INDOORevents, 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

2021-2022 Winter and Spring Seasons (Effective November 1, 2021)

After careful consideration regarding challenges, we continue to face with the current health situation, and in consultation with our medical and legal representatives, SOI, the CDC and NJ Department of Health, Special Olympics NJ (SONJ) will put the following guidelines in place for winter and spring statewide sectional and chapter competitions.

All athletes, Unified partners, coaches, and volunteers are required to provide proof of vaccination to attend winter and spring sectional and chapter competitions. This does not include participation in training/practice and league play. Athletes, Unified partners, and coaches wishing to advance to sectional and chapter competitions must show proof of vaccination prior to registering for those events.

Requests for exemptions from the vaccine requirements in order to participate in winter or spring sectional or chapter events will NOT be considered for athletes, unified partners, coaches, or volunteers. Exemptions from the vaccine requirements cannot be considered for sectional and chapter events due to the large number of participants, the potential for overnight accommodations, and the complex nature of determining exemption validity.

Due to the nature of team sports and rosters size requirements, SONJ will suspend the maximum number of athletes for rosters to allow additional members should some athletes not advance due to vaccination status. The minimum number of athletes on rosters are still in effect for team sports.

Please Note: For practice/training and league play, vaccinations are not required, but strongly encouraged.


Winter Sports: Vaccination Requirements

 Practice/TrainingLeague Play2022 Winter Games
Floor HockeyNot RequiredNot RequiredREQUIRED
VolleyballNot RequiredNot RequiredREQUIRED
Alpine Skiing/SnowboardingNot RequiredN/AREQUIRED  
Cross-Country Skiing/SnowshoeingNot RequiredN/AREQUIRED
Figure SkatingNot RequiredN/AREQUIRED
Speed SkatingNot RequiredN/AREQUIRED

Spring Sports: Vaccination Requirements

 Practice/TrainingLeague PlayArea CompetitionSectional Competition2022 Spring Games
BasketballNot RequiredNot RequiredN/AREQUIREDREQUIRED
BowlingNot RequiredN/ANot RequiredREQUIREDREQUIRED

2022 Summer Sports – Training/Practice does not require participants to be vaccinated


How to submit proof of vaccination:

A copy of the CDC vaccination card may be sent directly to SONJ via the online link or US Mail. You may also take screen shots of the approved app “Docket” and send via the online link below. The screen shots must include the name of the athlete and date(s) of vaccination.

Proof of vaccination may be sent online using the following form: COVID-19 Vaccine Card Submission Form


Spectator attendance/vaccination

At this time, spectators will not be required to provide proof of vaccination. If spectators are permitted to attend events, please adhere to designated spectator areas and mask requirements as posted.


Athletes under the age of 12

In considering the vaccine requirements for winter and spring statewide sectional and chapter competitions, SONJ recognizes the age limitations for those eligible and willing to receive the vaccine. As such, having the ability to offer in-person activities in a safe environment remains a priority.  We encourage all athletes to participate safely through training and local competition where applicable. Advancement to sectional and chapter competition will be limited to vaccinated individuals only.


Language on the 50 per 100,000

To continue to use data in concert with the consultation with SOI, the CDC, the NJ Department of Health, as well as medical and legal representatives, SONJ will be implementing the use of the average daily new cases per 100,000 people metric.

When the vaccination rate is greater than 80% of known participants, AND COVID-19 transmission rate is less than 50 new cases per 100,000 people, SONJ can continue to operate under our current return to activity protocols.

As events move indoors and the Winter sports season begins in earnest, we will be tracking county and statewide case rates in an effort to stay ahead of high-risk situations around New Jersey. High-risk would be if cases near 50/100,000. At 51/100,000, activity would have to be paused for a minimum of 7 days.

We will work with active programs 72 hours before a scheduled practice/training/competition if rates are trending upwards of 45 cases/100,000. We will assess the status of the event at that time with the program. 


Fundraising Events

All volunteers are required to provide proof of vaccination to state-wide fundraising events.

Event NameDateLocation
LETR Thanks4giving Turkey Dash & SplashNovember 13Asbury Park, NJ
Jingle All the Way 3kDecember 5Lawrenceville, NJ
LETR Polar Bear Plunge at WildwoodJanuary 15Wildwoods, NJ
LETR Polar Bear Plunge at Seaside HeightsFebruary 26Seaside Heights, NJ
Snow BowlMarch 4-6East Rutherford, NJ

Healthy Athletes

After careful consideration regarding challenges we continue to face with the current health situation, and in consultation with our medical and legal representatives, SOI, the CDC and NJ Department of Health, Special Olympics NJ (SONJ) will put the following guidelines in place for winter and spring Healthy Athletes events.  

All volunteers are required to provide proof of vaccination to attend winter and spring Healthy Athletes events.


2021-22 Program Year Practice Roster

Programs are required to submit a practice roster at least (2) weeks prior to the start of the first practice. This practice roster is for ALL seasons.

2021-22 Practice Roster


Winter Activities

Visit the Winter 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. COVID-19 vaccines are highly recommended for athletes, Unified partners, volunteers, and staff, and MAY be required for some activities and/or venues. 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.