Revision Date: August 23, 2020

Introduction

The Whistler Minor Hockey Association (WMHA) has compiled a COVID-19 Safety Plan to meet the requirements laid out by Hockey Canada (Hockey Canada Safety Guidelines), BC Hockey (BC Hockey Return to Hockey), viaSport BC (ViaSport BC Return to Play Activity Guidelines), the Resort Municipality of Whistler (Meadow Park Sports Centre COVID-19 Safe Work Guidelines for Public Entry), and the Provincial Medical Health Officer. The WMHA COVID-19 Safety Plan ensures that WMHA officials, players, and parents/guardians can return to the ice as quickly and safely as possible.

Participant Agreement

The WMHA’s top priority for the 2020/2021 season is the health and safety of team officials and players. It is imperative that WMHA officials, players, and parents/guardians follow the protocols in this Plan to ensure both the safety of players and the continued use of Meadow Park Sports Centre (MPSC).

The WMHA will be asking for specific commitments to COVID-19 safety protocols as part of this season’s waiver, player and parent codes of conduct and other documents.

Safety Plan Amendments

The WMHA Safety Plan will be amended and evolve as Hockey Canada, BC Hockey, viaSport BC, MPSC, and provincial health authority guidance changes. It is also likely to change as procedures are tested and adaptations are required. The WMHA needs to be flexible to accommodate and respond to changes in community transmission and the changes in advice from the Provincial Health Officer. Changes will be communicated to the membership via the Communications Officer.

Communicating the COVID-19 Safety Plan

Hockey Canada and BC Hockey recommend that the WMHA meets with Parents, Guardians, and Participants prior to the season to provide an overview of:

  • The COVID 19 Safety Plan and what to expect
  • Safety procedures put in place
  • Their role in creating a safe and healthy environment

In addition, the Meadow Park Sports Centre COVID-19 Safe Work Guidelines for Public Entry should be disseminated to all parents, coaches and participants (as per direction from MPSC).

Communications Officer – Kevin Sopp – Member at Large

Hockey Canada and BC Hockey recommend that a Communications Officer is appointed who is responsible to ensure all updated and relevant information is passed on to the officials, contractors, participants, volunteers and parents within the association. Responsibilities of the Communications Officer include:

  • Monitoring all updates from Vancouver Coastal Health, via Sport & Hockey Canada
  • Lead all communications with MPSC on guidelines, updates and reported cases
  • Ensuring teams are following the prevention guidelines set by Hockey Canada
  • Ensuring COVID-19 cases are reported to Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Hockey, MHA, the league & MPSC
  • Ensuring the WMHA membership is kept informed on the COVID-19 Safety Plan and updates.

Risk Management & Insurance

On June 10, 2020 the provincial government announced a ministerial order that protects amateur sport organizations, their employees and volunteers from damages resulting directly or indirectly, from COVID-19. This liability protection will be in place as long as sport organizations follow applicable guidance, such as viaSport’s Return to Sport protocols and public-health guidance. This order is in place for the duration of the Emergency Program Act.

Role of the Board: The board of an organization is responsible for the oversight of risk.

Health & Safety

Current Public Health Recommendations in BC

At this time the current public health measures and recommendations in BC include:

  • When outside of your home, practice physical distancing by keeping two meters (six feet) away from one another.
  • In situations where you cannot keep a safe distance from others consider wearing a mask
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or sleeve.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Stay at home when you’re sick, even if symptoms are mild. If you are experiencing mild respiratory symptoms, you must self-isolate at home for 10 days after the initial onset of symptoms.
  • If you have had contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 or are returning from travel outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

 

Hockey Canada advises that at all times, government and health agency directions will supersede any general recommendation of Hockey Canada adopted by Members.

Stay at home if you feel sick

The best way to ensure that the hockey season can progress for all players is to stay home if you are feeling sick. You or your child should not feel that they will miss out from playing it safe, and the WMHA is putting into practice policies for rep tryouts to ensure that attendance is not a requirement for any of our teams or divisions.

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

Most common symptoms:

  •   Fever
  •   Dry cough
  •   Shortness of breath

Less common symptoms:

  •   Runny nose
  •   Aches and pains
  •   Sore throat
  •   Diarrhea
  •   Conjunctivitis
  •   Headache
  •   Loss of taste and/or smell
  •   Skin rash, or discolouration of fingers and toes

Serious symptoms:

  •   Difficulty breathing
  •   Chest pain or pressure
  •   Loss of speech or movement

Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms. Always call before visiting your physician or health facility.

On average, it takes 5-6 days from infection for symptoms to show, but it can take up to 14 days

 

Procedure if a Player is Sick during a WMHA Activity

Team officials should be prepared to require that anyone exhibiting signs or symptoms of illness should leave the practice/activity. The following are the required guidelines for team officials, parents and guardians, and players who are sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19 while participating in a WMHA activity:

Procedure if a Player is Sick while at Home

Team officials and players that exhibit signs of illness will not be allowed to participate in WMHA activities. The following are the required guidelines for team officials, parents and guardians, and players who are sick and tells the coach they will not be attending:

Procedure if a Player is Showing Symptoms of COVID-19

Team officials and players that have symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to participate in WMHA activities. The following are the required guidelines for team officials, parents and guardians, and players who are showing symptoms of COVID-19:

Procedure if A Player Tests Positive for COVID-19

If a sick participant (or their parent/guardian if the participant is a minor) elects to inform a team official that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the team official informed will ask for permission to contact Vancouver Coastal Health in order to obtain advice on communication with other potentially impacted participants. The sick participant (or their parent/guardian if the participant is a minor) should be asked to advise Public Health of this consent.

Explain the communication that will take place and NEVER disclose the sick person’s name.

Player Injury (Not COVID-19 Related)

A safety person or coach may need to be within two metres of a player if the player suffers an injury but should wear a mask. In the event that first aid is required to be administered during an activity, all persons attending to the injured individual must first put on a mask and gloves.

Note from MPSC: First aid attendants are to be managed by each user group. There will not be a first aid attendant available on site. Safety Persons required at practice as per Hockey Canada unless regulations change.  Coaches can have masks and gloves but still need to manage other players on the ice. Need confirmation from PCAHA or BC Hockey on this protocol.

Reporting Cases

If a team official or player leaves the facility ill, facility staff should be notified so they can complete an incident report prior to the coaching staff leaving the facility. Risk Manager and MPSC should be notified.

Return to Play Following Illness

All team officials and players that are unwell or displaying symptoms must stay home. In the event that a player is sick, has tested positive for COVID-19, or is living with a person that is self-isolating, the player must stay out of the hockey environment.

Specifically:

  • If a player tests positive for COVId-19 they must stay out of the hockey environment. They will require a note from their physician to return to play.
  • If a player is sick but does not have COVID-19 the player should follow up with their physician or 8-1-1. They will require a note from their physician to return to play. If a player is exhibiting signs of COVID-19 but has not been tested they must remain out of the hockey environment and contact their physician or 8-1-1 for required steps to be taken. The player will require a note from their physician or public health authority to return to play.
  • If a player or a person they live with is in isolation, neither the player nor those they live with can be in the hockey environment until all public health authority requirements are met.

If a player tests positive for COVID-19, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) will determine contact tracing and isolation requirements. It is possible, therefore, that one diagnosis on a team could lead to that team being required to pause hockey activities until the VCH Medical Health Officer determines it is safe to return. Give the doctor’s note to the coach, safety person, or manager.

Hygiene and Social Distancing

Next to staying away if you are experiencing symptoms, the two most helpful practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are good hygiene and social distancing of at least 2 meters. Many of the specific facility, equipment and movement protocols implement one or both of these.

Masks

Masks are not currently required to enter MPSC but they are recommended for both players and when physical distancing cannot be followed. As an example, if a coach or official is tying skates of a player that is not their own child they should wear a mask. The WMHA will supply masks to coaches and team officials.

Facility

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and MPSC have developed Meadow Park Sports Centre COVID-19 Safe Work Guidelines for Public Entry that establishes protocols and procedures designed to mitigate the risk of exposure and potential spread of COVID-19 to staff and members of the public. The WMHA must follow the protocols and procedures laid out in the guidelines. MPSC staff will ensure WMHA officials, players, and parents/guardians abide by these guidelines for the duration of their visit to the facility.

Note: The Meadow Park Sports Centre COVID-19 Safe Work Guidelines for Public Entry is a living document that is likely to evolve as public health measures and guidance evolves. As a result, the WMHA COVID-19 Safety Plan is also likely to change from time to time.

MPSC will look different this year and there are a number of guidelines the WMHA must follow to be allowed to use the facility. These are included below.

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection

MPSC has implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures. Common touchpoints are cleaned with disinfectant between each team and user group.

Health Screening

WMHA officials and players will be required to complete a health questionnaire by MPSC staff upon entering WMHA. TeamSnap has a HealthCheck screening tool that can be used for each player prior to attending practice or games.

Arriving Dressed in Gear

Participants are asked to enter the facility in as much hockey equipment as possible, including skates (with skate guards) or shoes. Participants needing to change into skates must do so in the designated area of the arena lobby.

WMHA understands that it will not always be feasible to come to MPSC in full gear. As an example, players that drive themselves or players in car seats may not be able to dress fully at home. It is important to follow guidelines specific to car seats and seat belts, and only equipment that can be worn safely under current laws or guidelines. When player safety might be compromised by riding in a car fully dressed in hockey equipment, the player should leave home partially dressed in their equipment, and should put on the remainder of the equipment after arriving at, but before entering, the facility.

Dressing Room Access

WMHA officials and players will not have access to change rooms, the referee room, players benches or timekeeper’s booth unless specific arrangements have been made with through the Meadow Parks Sports Centre and the WMHA Risk Manager.

Spectators and Parent/Guardians

Only team officials and players will be permitted inside MPSC. Participant drop-off/pick-up will be at the front entrance to the building. Parents/guardians are asked to remain outside the building as parents, guardians, siblings, and other spectators are not permitted in the facility. The doors to MPSC will remain closed to the public.

We understand that for the younger division, Hockey U9 and under, children will require assistance. The board is currently working through this with MPSC.

Protocols for Players Requiring Assistance (e.g. para-hockey, younger ages)

For age groups where parents need to assist players with equipment, the number of parents in the facility will be limited to one per player. Parent entry should be controlled to meet physical-distancing requirements. There may need to be a volunteer at the front door controlling access to limit the number of parents for U9.  If kids come with skates on with skate guards that would save coaches time.

Facility Capacity  

Public occupancy limits have been reduced for MPSC. Maximum for each area of the arena is below:

  • Front Desk Lobby – 2 people
  • Arena Lobby – 16 people
  • Arena Lobby Women’s Washroom  – 3 people
  • Arena Lobby Men’s Washroom – 2 people
  • Arena Lobby Universal Washroom – 1 person
  • Ice Sheet – 14 people

Space Between Booking to Avoid Contact and for Facility Cleaning

MPSC requires 30 minutes between team ice bookings in order to minimize group cross-over and to clean high-touch surfaces.

One-way Traffic Inside MPSC

One-way traffic measures have been implemented through the facility to maintain distancing. Signage is in place with directional arrows, stickers and mats have been placed on the ground to indicate how staff and patrons will flow throughout the facility to maintain physical distancing.

Arena Lobby Layout

The Arena lobby will be divided into an entrance/exit space that will be separated by stanchions. There are chairs available to put on skates or remove skate guards with marked physical-distanced seating. Lobby capacity is limited to 16 people in total. MPSC staff will clean high touch surfaces between user groups and team ice time.

Washroom Access

The arena lobby washrooms will be open and available for participant use. The maximum occupancy of the women’s washroom is 3, and the maximum occupancy of the men’s washroom is 2. The Public washrooms are not to be used as a changing room facility.

Other Amenities

There will be no access to water filling stations or water fountains. Participants are advised to fill their water bottles at home. Vending machines, phone charging stations, and the ATM will also  be taped off and unavailable for use.

WMHA Officials and Player Arrival Procedure:

Participants will enter the arena through the front entrance ten minutes prior to their scheduled ice time.

  • Participants must sanitize their hands once they enter the MPSC foyer.
  • Participants will be met by a MPSC staff member who will complete a short health questionnaire and guide the participants through the health and safety requirements for the facility.
  • Participants will enter the arena lobby on the right hand side and proceed to the designated chairs on the entry side.
  • Chairs will be used to put-on or tie-up skates, fasten helmets and remove skate guards. Skate guards/street shoes will be moved to the exit side of the stanchions prior to taking the ice.

Ice Access Procedure:

  • Entry onto the ice will be through the main arena doors, which will be propped open by facility maintenance staff. Ensure players can access washroom if needed.

On-ice Procedure:

  • 12 participants, including 2 goalies, will be permitted on the ice at any one time. Goalies must remain in their goal crease
  • Up to 2 coaches are permitted on the ice, for a total of 14 skaters
  • On-ice activities must be skill based and non-contact. Physical distancing (2m) must be maintained at all times
  • Skaters should be spread across the entire ice surface ensuring 2 meters of distance between each person at all times
  • Hockey coaches should design individual drills to be run out of the corners
  • Markers have been placed on the glass in the 4 corners to provide a reference point for social distancing of participants in a line up
  • Participants and coaches must keep gloves and equipment on at all times. Touching of pucks, nets, dividers and other equipment with bare hands is not permitted

Ice & Facility Exit Procedure:

  • At the end of the ice session participants must leave the ice, on time and single file, to the chairs on the exit side of the arena lobby, to remove skates and helmets.
  • Participants will have 10 minutes to take off skates and exit the facility, on the right hand side, from the arena lobby back to the main automatic doors at the front of the building.

Equipment Protocols

Water Bottles

Players should have individually labeled water bottles that are cleaned after use and filled at home. Water bottles cannot be shared. Water bottles are to be placed on the boards of the players benches spread 2 meters apart and clearly labelled for each participant. Spitting is not permitted anywhere in the facility.

Hockey Gear

Player equipment should be washed (e.g. jerseys, pant shells, socks) after each practice, following manufacturer guidelines. It is important that players ensure all equipment is kept clean at all times.

Sharing of Equipment

Personal player equipment must not be shared. It is important players come to the arena organized with all of their gear.

Shared Equipment

Where possible, players will use their own equipment. Activities must minimize shared equipment. Where equipment has to be shared, protocols need to be in place for

  • regular cleaning,
  • disinfection between users and
  • hand washing before and after use

As we get closer to the season, we’ll provide details on cleaning requirements for specific equipment.

 

APPENDIX A

Do your Part

Everyone has a part to play to keep all players on the ice safely. The following are based on Hockey Canada Safety Guidelines.

 

Players 

  • Always respect and listen to coaches, managers and other staff as they create a safe environment.
  • Respect the Meadow Park facility and the facility staff and the guidelines put in place.
  • Be familiar with facility guidelines and requirements specific to the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Minimize going in and out of doors, including dressing room doors. Facility doors are considered high-risk touchpoints. Use the elbow to open.
  • Absolutely no sharing of food or drinks.
  • When coughing or sneezing:
    • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of the arm, not the hand.
    • Dispose of any used tissues as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash hands.
    • Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Follow the instructions of your public health authority if you are notified that you have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Parents

  • Respect and listen to coaches, managers and other staff as they create a safe environment.
  • Respect the MPSC and the facility staff and the guidelines put in place.
  • Be familiar with facility guidelines and requirements specific to the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Learn and follow the guidelines put in place by the WMHA and volunteer staff.
  • Talk to kids about the importance of preventing COVID-19 in the hockey environment, including physical-distancing guidelines.
  • Stress washing of hands before leaving for hockey, before going into the rink, after using the washroom, after the hockey activity and after leaving the facility.
  • Stress to kids not to touch their faces while at the hockey activity.
  • Make sure kids let you know if they are not feeling well.
  • Make sure kids have their own clean water bottle, labelled clearly with their name, and stress the importance of not sharing water bottles.
  • Follow the instructions of your public health authority if you are notified that you have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Coaching Staff & Managers

  • Be familiar with public health authority guidelines, and adhere to them.
  • Review the WMHA Return to Hockey plan and COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • Be familiar with facility guidelines and requirements specific to the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Host an initial meeting with parents/guardians/participants to review how programming will look and allow them to ask questions (can be done virtually if required).
  • To minimize large groups in the facility as much as possible, players can meet family in vehicles (if their age permits) to follow physical-distancing requirements of the public health authority and local facilities.
  • Minimize congregation in areas of the facility, such as the lobby, as much as possible.
  • If there are multiple entrances to the ice surface, split the players into groups and have them space appropriately to meet physical-distancing standards at each entrance.
  • Encourage participants to minimize their time in or around the facility. Have participants put on their shoes or skate guards so that they can leave quickly.
  • Remind players and parents to follow physical-distancing guidelines when leaving.
  • For age groups where parents need to assist players with equipment, limit the number of parents in the dressing room/change area at any one time to one per player. Parent entry should be controlled to meet physical-distancing requirements.
  • Follow Hockey Canada guidelines for best practices related to on- and off-ice activities.

 

Safety Person & Trainer

  • Ensure the health and safety of the players and help to create a safe and welcoming environment.
  • Educate parents and players on the need for each player to have their own water bottle labelled with their names. Players should take their water bottles home and wash them before the next session.
  • Emphasize to players the importance of washing their hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Carry extra hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in the first-aid kit.
  • Emphasize to players the importance of keeping their equipment clean.
  • Be familiar with the hygiene protocols from Hockey Canada, viaSport, the WMHA and the RMOW and emphasize to players and parents the need for total cooperation concerning hygiene.
  • Work with coaches to support physical distancing, hygiene and return to play after illness.
  • The safety person/trainer should wear non-latex gloves on the bench for practices and games.
  • Gloves should be worn when handling equipment and when treating a player.
  • Hands must be washed and gloves changed between each player contact.
  • Cloth masks should be worn when treating players and when physical distancing cannot be practiced.

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