As we make our way into a new year, we continue to deal with the realities of a global pandemic. These are certainly unprecedented times and have brought new challenges to the sports world. My last blog was about keeping kids active safely during the pandemic. For this entry, I would like to highlight some recent recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics in terms of kids and sports and COVID. COVID is going to continue to affect our lives well into 2021 and possibly beyond so knowing how to deal safely with the return to sports in our new world is very important. Here are the highlights of the recommendations:
- Playing sports continues to be a personal and community decision. Families must weigh the risk to other family members in the household in terms of risk if someone brings COVID into the house. Families that have someone that is immunocompromised or over 65 will need to take extra precautions. In many areas, including St. Louis, the community numbers will continue to play a role. Follow local numbers to decide if being active in sports is a good decision.
- Testing before playing sports is not recommended unless a patient is symptomatic.
- Basic cleaning and safety protocols need to be in place. Frequent surface cleaning, avoiding locker rooms, and avoiding shared equipment are all strong recommendations.
- Masks are highly recommended. Masks should be worn at all times if possible. I know that this is a controversial topic but most kids will have no trouble participating in a mask. A few exceptions would be when doing certain gymnastic activities where the mask could obscure vision, cheerleading stunting (also a vision concern), and during swimming and diving (wet masks are not effective).
- Kids that have gotten COVID should be evaluated prior to returning to sports. For kids with mild or asymptomatic COVID, a simple check-in with the pediatrician should be adequate. For those with moderate or severe COVID, evaluation with cardiology is recommended and some may need further heart testing. COVID may have effects on the heart that could cause problems if an athlete exerts themselves too quickly.
As always, if your child has been exposed to someone with COVID or is exhibiting any concerning symptoms, it is always best to keep them home. Missing one practice or game could mean not transmitting COVID to teammates! We want to keep our community and our teams playing safely.