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Team Email - 1/25/21 - Tier 1

Alrighty – we’re really excited that we’ve moved into Tier 1, however, as far as our day-to-day programming going, much is not going to change from Tier 2.
It does feel liberating a little bit – I know I feel a weight releasing a little off my shoulders and a window of hope…but, we are not out of the woods yet, and continued vigilance is VITAL. Vaccines are scarce, Covid is evolving and flu season is kicking up.

First off, please note that the new variant of Covid-19 is EXTREMELY contagious. This strain is converging on the Midwest and will be affecting many of our Covid-19 numbers. After several conversations with medical professionals, it has been advised that our coaching staff double up masks or wear N95 masks and restrict close contact with athletes as fabric masks alone do not provide the requisite protection from this new strain. We recommend the same consideration for athletes & families and will be extremely vigilant with the social distancing and mask protocols.

It is important to note that as more research has come out, there is a lot more that is unknown than known about how this virus operates. Covid-19 affects everyone differently from the asymptomatic person to a gravely ill person who must be hospitalized – and there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of rhyme or reason to the reactions. It is important to keep in mind that social responsibility when sending athletes to workouts or school.

Please help us keep our workouts safe. If a household member has symptoms or is awaiting test results or has Covid-19 or must be quarantined due to exposure – DO NOT SEND YOUR ATHLETE TO WORKOUT. Now that we are operating under a little less restrictive guidelines – a positive athlete will put up to 12 athletes and at least one coach out of workouts for 10 days. A person can develop Covid-19 up to 10 days from exposure, so this is not a precaution we take lightly.

Vaccines are still very difficult to get for most of the population and will not be available for younger folks until the summer at the earliest. We need to stay on top of our protocols to protect our community at large.

  1. Practice groups will stay static. No switching between groups in the level.
  2. Workout groups (groups of 8 or 12) will also stay relatively static. We will rotate the order of workouts every two weeks, to allow for some flexibility of schedules. This will aid in schedule consistency in the event we return to Tier 2 restrictions.
  3. Generally, the schedule online for Feb 1-6 (next week) will be what we’re working with until we gain access to another facility. We are waiting to post more of the February schedule until later this week.
  4. Our facility partners have asked that we stay at a 2 per lane usage, along with minimal locker room usage. We may look to 3 per lane at our 8-lane facilities only for groups that we feel can manage the social distancing requirements. 
    • Senior-level athletes who need to change to go to school after the OLPH morning workouts will be able to change but must give coaches prior notice.
    • Water Polo will have 12 athletes per session at OLPH/JCC & 24-26 at Loyola.
  5. Once we have access to facilities for competitions, we will look to have meets and scrimmages. Right now, Loyola is on a lockdown due to a community outbreak, so until we have that facility back online, competitions are on hold.  These will be run with STRICT social distancing and limited participant numbers as we did in November.
  6. Travel Restrictions are still in place. This does mean that out-of-state competitions are on hold for the time being as coaches cannot take the 10 days off deck, but that being said, there aren’t many of those anyway. Please do NOT register to compete in an out-of-state meet.

Second, Winter Weather is coming! We generally will plan to have workouts, but in the event of significant snow, there may be a chance that morning workouts are cancelled or late evening workouts end early. Morning workout cancellations are usually determined 30 minutes prior to start time & communicated through the group chats on WhatsApp or GroupMe and posted to social media.  Late evenings will be communicated as quickly as possible through Instagram, Twitter, Email and SMS.

Third, we have been getting some questions about group moves. We are not entertaining group moves at this time. We need to make sure that we stay within our group numbers and provide a clean way to contact trace in the event of a positive athlete. While we appreciate the enthusiasm, until we have regular competitions and times to evaluate appropriate movement, we will NOT be moving athletes into different training groups. When we have more space, facility stability, practice consistency and a little bit less Covid-19 in the area, we will look to evaluate athletes. If you have a specific concern regarding workout structure– please speak with your current lead coach and set up a time to meet via zoom to discuss your questions & concerns. 

Fourth, take time to assess mental health of all household members. Winter months are always difficult but with covid, this acerbates the occurrence of depression and anxiety. I know how easy it is to feel like we’re losing ground, missing out, feeling lost or even just a sense of pervasive hopelessness. Take the time to sit and speak with athletes and each other beyond just “how was your day?” and evaluate feelings and emotions to keep athletes and family members in a safe space. Some suggestions are listed below.  Early intervention with a medical professional can be a game changer. I know personally that semi-regular check-ins over the past 10 months has really helped me navigate this time as I can spend time reflecting on where I am in relation to where I want to be in a healthy way, rather than through constant comparison. Strong people need help too.

Lastly, thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am more than happy to talk through our current processes and protocols as these decisions are not made lightly and weigh heavy on my mind every day.

Have a great Monday - support a local restaurant this week & see you at the pool!