Health and Safety Guidelines

Expand each for full details

Size and Frequency of Events: SONJ Stage 2

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

  • Beginning April 5, summer sports groups of fifty (50) or fewer at a time, INDOORS or OUTDOORS, including coaches, athletes, Unified partners, volunteers, or anyone on-site with an affiliation to SONJ.
  • If INDOORS, the restriction extends to fifty (50) total individuals or 35% of the room's total capacity, whichever is the lower number.
  • To control exposure, athletes can participate in no more than one (1) approved in-person SONJ activity.
    • Activity is defined as an in-season sport, out of season sport, or any SONJ affiliated activity such as walking club, fitness night, etc.
    • Athletes are permitted to practice no more than once per week.
  • Athletes may take part in all virtual (at-home) opportunities in addition to the one (1) in-person activity.
Groupings/Social Distancing Clarifications

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

  • Social distancing of at least six (6) feet shall always be maintained between all individuals on-site.
  • Coaches can supervise multiple groups, as long as face coverings and proper distancing is maintained at all times.
  • Consider conducting training in "pods" of the same athletes training and rotating in practice to ensure limited exposure.
  • The number of INDOOR/OUTDOOR groups will be limited by current state, facility and SONJ guidelines at any given time.


Mask Compliance
  • Athletes and Unified partners MUST wear a mask at all times during both active and inactive participation.
    • Swimming is the only exception, but athletes must wear a mask prior to and immediately after exiting the pool.
  • Athletes and Unified partners may remove masks for hydrating or for brief medical reasons.
  • Coaches, staff, volunteers, and spectators MUST wear 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 physical distancing 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") and physically distanced activities.
  • Maintain a master list with contact information for all athletes, coaches, and volunteers.
  • Email or communicate these guidelines (High-Risk Waiver & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver) 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 allowed.
  • High Risk Waiver & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver
  • Online submission is preferred, but a paper copy is available.
  • Pre-practice/Screening Questions to be shared with participants prior to practice (see "Know Before You Go" section).
  • Screening and Tracking Template for Special Olympics New Jersey Activities to be used at each SONJ event or practice.
  • Print Physical Distancing, Wear a Mask, and Directional Signage to be displayed at all events.
  • SONJ can also mail copies to you if you do not have access to a printer.
  • Display Distancing Signage (on the groundworks), set-up isolation area twenty (20) feet from the group in the event of illness and sanitize equipment.
  • Equipment sanitation best practices are outlined in the Additional Coach Resources.
  • Strongly recommend identifying 1 or 2 other registered individuals within your program that can support and help with the sign-in and screening process at each practice/event.
During Event Guidelines

Participant Sign-In and Screening

  • Everyone must use hand sanitizer or wash hands upon arrival.
  • Coach or volunteer must sign-in all participants on the Screening and Tracking Template for Special Olympics New Jersey Activities which asks screening questions.
  • Take temperature using a touchless thermometer.
  • A fever is considered a temperature of 100.4°F/37.8°C or higher.
  • If temperature is high, you may offer one re-test after five (5) minutes to ensure temperature is accurate. Note: sitting in a hot car, direct sunlight, and physical exertion just prior to taking temperature can create an inaccurate reading.
  • Those that have been or may have been exposed and or exhibit signs or symptoms of COVID-19 they must go home and remain quarantined for fourteen (14) days or until a negative COVID-19 test is produced in order to return to activities.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Coaches, staff, volunteers, family members, and caregivers should wear a mask at all times.
  • Athletes should arrive and depart wearing a mask and are encouraged to wear it when not actively participating in a sport activity.
  • All participants are encouraged to provide their own masks.
  • If 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained at any point during active participation, a mask should be worn by all participants. (i.e. a golf partner helping an athlete line up a shot)
  • Coaches should have the following PPE supplies at practice as part of their Coach Toolkit, which can be provided by SONJ upon request:
    • Touchless Thermometers (provided to LTP)
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Sanitizing Wipes or Spray
    • Gloves
    • Masks
  • A full list of available Coach Toolkit items.

Social Distancing

  • Avoid activities that are not conducive to physical distancing (minimum of six (6) 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 are discouraged but, if present, should be at least six (6) feet from other spectators, twenty-five (25) feet from participants and must not exceed the maximum of ten (10) individuals in a group.

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

  • Must notify Jeff Baldino, or 609.896.8000 x252
  • Direct individual to 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.
  • If they exhibit signs or symptoms of Covid-19 they must go home and remain quarantined for fourteen (14) days or until a negative COVID-19 test is produced in order to return to activities.
  • The activity must be suspended for at least 2 weeks (or until a negative test has been produced), and all participants will be notified while maintaining privacy, that an individual at an SONJ activity has tested positive for COVID-19.

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

Coaches Submit to SONJ:

  • All participants including coaches and athletes must complete the COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver and High-Risk Waiver (if applicable) before attending any SONJ practice or activity.  Failure to complete the COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver will result in no in-person participation allowed.
  • Within 24-48 hours after each practice or event:
  • At the conclusion of the season:
    • Thermometers are required to be returned to SONJ at the end of the season. Any lost or unreturned thermometers will carry a fee of $60.
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, or 609.896.8000 x252

All participants are required to fill out the following form:

High Risk Waiver & COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver

Return to Activity Considerations

  • Discuss the risk of participating with your family.
  • Seek your doctor’s advice on your level of risk.
  • Contact your coach to find out if they are still participating in SONJ activities.
  • Make sure you understand all your options and sports, both on the field and virtual that are being offered.
  • Make sure all your questions are answered for you to make an informed decision in returning to fall activities.
  • Do you have a way to get to practice? (carpooling and other options that were used in the past that may not be available now)
  • Is your medical up to date?

Know Before You Go

  • Ask yourself, how do you feel? Do you have a cold, cough or feeling extra tired?
  • Have you traveled outside of New Jersey recently? Make sure you let your coach know!
  • Practice social distancing – measure six (6) feet apart at home so you know how far away it is.
  • Complete the COVID-19 Code of Conduct Waiver and High Risk waiver (if applicable) – First practice only.
  • Take your Temperature – If over 100.4 degrees do NOT attend practice/training.
  • Review the screening questionnaire:
    • Do you have a fever of 100.4 degrees or above?
    • Do you have any symptoms of COVID-19?
    • Have you been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or been notified that you may have been exposed to it?
    • Have you traveled to states with a significant spread of COVID-19 in the past fourteen (14) days?
  • Travel to and from Practice – If you must take public transportation or carpool with people outside your household, wear a mask the entire journey to/from home.
  • Whenever possible, have your ride stay through the screening and temperature check process.
  • Pack Your Bag:
    • Personal sports equipment
    • Mask(s)
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Water Bottle – Write your name on it!

What to Expect at Practice/Training

  • Parent/caregiver to escort athlete to designated check in area while practicing social distancing.
  • Complete questionnaire and temperature screening.
    • If pass, move to facility/field to pre-assigned group.
    • If temperature is high or questionnaire is not acceptable, move to isolation area for departure. Note: sitting in a hot car, direct sunlight, and physical exertion just prior to taking temperature can create an inaccurate reading.
  • Individuals that stay for the duration of practice must stay at least 25 feet from the facility/field.
  • No hugging, high fives or fist bumps at this time. Wave to your teammates!
  • Follow all instructions from coach as well as posted signs.
  • Leave as soon as the activity is complete.
  • Be patient. Things will take a little longer than normal at practice.
  • Participant’s transportation should arrive no later than 15 minutes to practice end time.
  • Use the bathroom before you go to practice. Bathroom facilities may not be available at practices.

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