August 12, 2020
GCSTO’s COVID GUIDELINES, POLICIES & PROCEDURES 2020/2021
as of 8/12/2020
Note: These guidelines, policies and procedures are subject to change in terms of amendments, additions and deletions based on conditions as we adapt to the concerns of these times. By registering for this program all participants and their parents/guardians/attendees agree to abide by these guidelines, policies & procedures and any changes to these that are made by the GCSTO administration.
GCSTO’s COVID-19 Guidelines, Policies and Procedures Protocol
These guidelines, policies and procedures have been developed to match or surpass the requirements set forth by the Center For Disease Control (CDC), the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), the Franklin County Public Health Department (FCPHD), the Columbus Public Health Department (CPHD), the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), USA Swimming (USAS), Ohio Swimming, Inc. (OSI), and our facilities. As well, GCSTO has instituted additional guidelines and measures to help protect everyone associated with our facilities and/or programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
GCSTO maintains the rights for strict enforcement of all of our guidelines, policies and procedures. We cannot have the actions of any single individual jeopardizing the entire team’s status at our facilities nor jeopardize the facilities operational status (whether they can remain open or not to other teams or to the public). As such, these will be strictly enforced. Those not adhering will be required to leave facility grounds. Additional infractions will lead to the individual not being able to come back to the facility for the week, for the session or for the remainder of the season.
Mandatory Acceptance of GCSTO’s COVID-19 Assumption of Risk Policy
Every single family and each and every coach who will be with us for the season will be required to agree to and sign GCSTO’s Assumption of Risk Policy. Acceptance of this policy is part of GCSTO’s registration process. No exceptions will be made to this requirement.
GCSTO’s COVID-19 SCREENING POLICIES
Daily Covid-19/Sickness Screening Policy
1. Participants are to have their temperatures checked daily at home before coming to practice by their parent/guardian without exception prior to coming to the pool. Coaches and Check-in attendants will be required to do the same in terms of taking a personal temperature. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4F will be instructed not to come to the facility.
2. All individuals associated with the program will be sent a list COVID-19 symptoms that we will also ask them to use to pre-screen themselves or their athletes before coming to the pool. If they show any signs or symptoms they will be instructed not to bring their athlete to practice or themselves come to practice until such time as they can provide us with confirmation that they are no longer exhibiting these symptoms or they or their athlete has tested negative for COVID in a test administered after that day. They will be instructed to notify us of the situation (positive COVID signs) so that we can record the information for tracking purposes. The individual or the athlete will be asked to report to us the results of any COVID-19 test that they have done as soon as they have them, again, for tracking purposes.
1. For any individual associated with our program who does then arrive at one of our facilities, we will then ask them the same question each day at the entrance of the facility:
Are you, anyone in your household or anyone that you’ve had direct contact with outside your household showing any signs of COVID-19 such as a temperature, coughing, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath or have been tested positive for COVID-19?
A “YES” answer to this will require us to immediately turn the individual away from entering the facility. In the case of the athletes, we will immediately notify the parents in this situation that this has occurred and that they are to take the athlete home and not bring them back to practice until the athlete has been tested for COVID by a licensed tested facility and received back a negative test result unless they present to us a written note from their medical professional confirms the symptoms to be attributed to something else (allergies, asthma or other condition). Other adult individuals (coaches and check-in monitors) will simply need to provide us with the same test or medical evaluation results.
2. Regardless of a YES or NO answer all individuals entering the facility (athletes, check-in attendants, and coaches, alike) will have their temperature checked each and every day at our entrance check-in with a no-touch LED thermometer. Any individual with a reading of 100.4F will be turned away from entering the facility. In the event it is our check-in individual a coach who has cleared screening will take over check-ins. In the event of extremely hot weather we will allow the athlete to sit in the shade for several minutes before taking a second reading of their temperature. They must do so within the direct line of site of the check in individual. If it is below 100.4 the second time they have been checked and they have answered NO to our screening question they will be admitted into the facility if the check-in individual sees no other signs of sickness.
3. Even if an individual’s answer to our screening question is NO and the results of their temperature scan is below 100.4F anyone showing signs of any sickness whatsoever will be turned away from entering the facility.
4. In all cases where an individual has been turned away for a YES answer to our screening question, a temperature reading of 100.4F or above or visible signs of sickness otherwise the name of the individual and the reason that they have been turned away will be immediately reported to myself as owner of GCSTO. In the event that I am unavailable or indisposed for whatever reason we will have a 2nd and 3rd tier of notification/recording set up so that we can record such instances and subsequent results of their COVID tests for tracking purposes.
5. Any individual who has taken a vacation, traveled by mass-transit, or been subjected to a high risk environment will be required to report the nature of that to the GCSTO administration. GCSTO reserves the right to institute precaution with more restrictive requirements for the individual or to hold them out entirely until such time as they receive a negative COVID test.
POSITIVE Covid-19 Test Reporting Protocol
Should an individual within our program or someone in their household test positive for COVID-19 the following measures will take place:
1. The individual or the individual’s family should let the GCSTO administration know immediately, in writing, of the positive test result letting us know whether it was the individual themselves, or a family member who tested positive. The individual associated with our program will not be allowed to come to any practices/facilities until such time as they test negative for the COVID-19 virus and inform the GCSTO administration of the negative test results. GCSTO has even collected actual copies of the results in such cases but has not yet required that. We are currently checking on the legalities of requiring individuals to send an official results of tests to us but need to verify that this does not infringe on an individual’s rights in terms of HIPAA compliance.
2. Using GCSTO’s on-deck and in-water tracking system (see below) the individual or individuals swimming on either side of that athlete or on-deck with that athlete will be determined and notified that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. They then will be required to have a COVID-19 test performed and test negative before coming back to practice or must sit out 14 days and show no signs of COVID-19 before coming back to practice.
3. If we ever do have a positive COVID test in an individual who has been inside the facility we will notify the facility in such instances providing them with the exact details of when the individual was present per our tracking records.
GCSTO’s COVID-19 ON-SITE PROTECTION POLICIES
All individuals associated with our program must be properly masked from the time that they get out of their car in anyone is within 5yds of them or could end up within 5yds of them up to the facility. Proper masking has been clearly defined in our program as wearing a suitable, tight fitting mask that is worn so that it completely covers the individual’s nose and mouth.
If a spectator (where allowed), they must then remain properly masked at all times within the facility.
If a coach or administrator, they must remain masked up until such time as the athletes are entering the water. A coach must re-mask anytime an athlete gets out of the water and comes within a 10yd distance of the coach. Once practice is over and athletes are exiting the water proper all coaches must be masked.
If an athlete, they must remain masked up to the side of the pool. Their mask may then be taken off and placed in a sealed plastic bag (to keep the effectiveness of the mask intact) and placed on their water bottle or equipment bag (if we allow equipment bag usage). Masks are to be put back on once the athlete gets out of the water and remain on upon exiting to their vehicle.
GCSTO does not accept medical excuses nor age restriction exemptions in terms of our masking policy. If they cannot wear a mask they cannot simply be a part of our program or come to the facility.
GCSTO requires that whenever possible anyone
driving to practice is to park at least 1 space apart from any
other vehicle when coming to practice. This allows “social
distancing” when it comes to entering and exiting their
vehicles. Anyone entering the facility is required to have their
mask on getting out of their car keeping that mask on all of the
way into the facility until such time as in-water training begins.
They are required to do the same exiting the facility as long as
there is a chance that they could be within a 5yd distance of any
Social Distancing & No-Touch Entrance & Exit Policy
Individuals must remain at least 5yds apart walking up to or away from the practice facility and when entering into or exiting out of the facility. The only exceptions to the 5yd SD rule are for family members or for other individuals in an athletes carpool (as many families established social groups early in the summer).
GCSTO has been able to insure a “No Touch Entrance/Exit Policy”. All doors/gates entering into the facilities we use have been propped open by pool staff or a GCSTO coach member. Individuals are not to be touching anything in the pool grounds when on dry land. The exception will be lane ropes & the lane rope reel as we need to put in and take out lanes ropes here. We feel chlorine will do its’ job in these lane rope circumstances. For our indoor facilities we plan to have our COVID screening/check-in individual in charge of the entrance and exit of individuals. Weather permitting the outer door may be propped open to allow complete no touch entrance and exit. One individual will also be responsible for propping open any and all doors leading into the pool proper so that, again, a no touch entrance/exit system can be established. The last individual to leave the facility will be required to sanitize any doors, handles and such that they have touched to insure proper lock-up.
GCSTO’s On-Deck & In-Water Tracking System
Currently, GCSTO athletes are assigned specific training positions in terms of days, times and locations. No athlete may come to a practice outside of their currently assigned schedule. Only 24 athletes are allowed to train at one time in a 6 lane facility (4 athletes per lane).
Each athlete is assigned a specific On-Deck position to which they will report upon entering the facility. That on-deck position remains the same on that day the entire session. This way, we can identify exactly who was around them each and every day for tracking purposes. All athlete on-deck positions are 5yds apart.
In-Water training positions are assigned similarly… each athlete is assigned a specific lane (lane 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6) and a specific sub-group (A, B, C, D) for each session. While resting, we have one athlete in each lane stationed at one end of the pool, another about 7-8yds down the pool, another athlete stationed yet another 7-8yds down the pool and finally the last athlete stationed on the wall at the other side of the pool. By keeping athletes in the same lane (minimum 7-8yds difference between them and anyone else in their lane at rest) and in the same subgroup that always swims next to them in the adjacent lanes (minimum 5yds difference between them and the same subgroup swimmer in the adjacent lanes) we can establish a very precise tracking pattern for every single day of practice and can maintain a safe distance between athletes within the pool.
Note that we arrange on-deck positions to mirror in-water positions in terms of who is next to who as much as we possibly can to reduce the number of athletes any one athlete comes in contact with during the entire course of the session.
GCSTO staff members also take attendance every single day which adds yet another layer of tracking ability in the event that is needed.
Athlete Passing Concern
Since swimmers are taught to exhale underwater and only inhale when their head is above water policy makers and our sport feel that athletes passing by one another in the pool do so in safe conditions. It is only when they are idle in between swims with their heads above water do we insure the 5yd (lane to lane) and 7-8yds (within the lane) separation policy.
Individual Contact Policy
Individuals are not allowed to be in physical contact with anyone at all times in our program. This includes coaching staff members. The only exception is in time of emergency if those ever arise.
Locker Room Use Policy
GCSTO has not allowed the use of any locker rooms/changing rooms at any of our facilities. Athletes arrive to the pool with their suits on under their clothing and must depart the pool the same way. No deck changing (getting into or out of swimming suits in a public area such as on deck, in the grass, in the stands and such) is allowed.
Restroom (Bathroom Emergency) Use Policy
Restrooms have been used for sickness or gastric/urinary emergency, only. In the event they have had to be used we have ensured sanitization after said uses. Bathroom doors have been propped open in such cases and the bathroom sanitized upon departure by staff or facility personnel.
Hydration Safety Policy
We have asked our athletes to bring in large (at least ½ to 1 gallon) jugs of water for hydration at practice. This not only cuts down on the use of throwaway plastic bottles but, as importantly, we can reduce the use of drinking fountains/water fill-up stations by doing so. As well, the staff will instruct athletes to drink water just before getting in and immediately upon getting out to encourage proper hydration. Scheduled water breaks within practice should occur at 20-30 minute intervals to allow for athletes in the middle of the pool to receive proper hydration (since they must move to the side of the pool to get to their water bottles).
Equipment Use Policy
Currently no equipment is allowed to be brought to practices. Once we allow this, athletes will be required to bring in their own equipment (pull buoy, kick-board, paddles and such) in a mesh bag so that no equipment whatsoever is needed from pool storage. Nor will athletes be allowed to share equipment, as well. This will stop equipment use cross-contamination. As we see how the pandemic progresses we may allow the use of non-standard common equipment (gymnast rings, med balls and such) as long as said equipment is able to be sanitized in between uses of different athletes.
We have allowed 1 spectator per swimmer at 2 of our 3 locations this summer. One facility has mandated no spectators. We plan to follow the requirements of each facility we are at in terms of spectator/guardian allowance. We feel extremely safe not allowing any spectators into the facility for at least 4 of our 6 training groups due to the age of athletes found in these program levels. The reason that we would consider allowing in a single same household spectator into a facility, if we are allowed, is because our 2 youngest program groups may need a parent/guardian with them for help with getting dressed or the like.
In such cases as we have allowed a single spectator the spectator had to be properly masked and had to check in at the same time as their athlete so that they could go through our screening process. They were not allowed to enter in at any other time. If they left the facility they were required to remain outside and not reenter. All spectators were also required to keep 5yds apart from any other individual while inside the facility.