Health & Safety for Co-Curricular Activities during the Pandemic
Activities are a critical aspect of an ACS student's experience. These opportunities provide students with a chance to explore and develop their passions and interests beyond the classroom. They help students develop leadership, sportsmanship, perseverance, teamwork, and many other important life skills.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced ACS and schools around the world to reimagine (or suspend) their co-curricular programs out of safety concerns. ACS is doing its best to rethink what its co-curricular programs might look like.
ACS recognizes that while we always prioritize the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, and staff, this duty is now heightened. Accordingly, our Activities team has developed new health-related policies and procedures that are researched-based, following models of best practice from other international schools, and aligned to major sports governing bodies. The Activities Department has also developed a Distance Learning Co-curricular Program, which is elaborate and allows for the students and various members of the community to take part.
Physical Distancing & Reducing Density during the ACS Blended Learning Model
Some sports require physical contact by the nature of the competition. Contact is inevitable in other sports (basketball, volleyball, and soccer), even when inadvertent (teammate or opponent) or through shared equipment. There are only a few sports where physical distancing feels even remotely plausible [cross-country, swimming, and tennis (singles)]. There is less risk in most activities ACS offers, although physical distancing challenges are problematic in some activities more than others. ACS also plans to implement occupancy limitations for facilities to help with physical distancing. We will also limit the number of daily participants in co-curriculars, if necessary.
The US Olympic Paralympic Committee has proposed a risk scale for COVID-19 transmission. ACS has adapted this scale to categorize its current co-curricular offerings from high/moderate risk (1) to low risk (2). These ratings do not mean these sports will automatically be canceled; rather, we are looking closely at the risks involved in each sport or activity to assess whether those risks can be mitigated.
At a Glance, Sports/Activities Specific Risk Management
- Sports that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors.
- Sports are: Swimming, Cross-Country, Individual Track Running events, Ultimate Frisbee and Golf.
- Activities that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of material or the ability to clean the equipment between use by participants.
- Activities are: Speech & Debate, Academic Games, Model United Nations, Student Council, ES/MS Art Clubs, HS/MS service, and curricular clubs.
- Sports that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants OR intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.
- Sports are: Basketball, Soccer, Swimming, and Volleyball.
- Activities that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants OR intermittent close contact OR group activities OR activities that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.
- Activities are: HS Fall Play, HS/MS/ES Musicals, and HS/MS Robotics.
Each sport or activity in the list above will be evaluated to determine whether risks can be reduced enough to permit the sport to happen. Before we decide to cancel a sport or activity, we will exhaust all options, including moving it to another season in the hope that medical interventions might permit the sport to happen or developing the sport into an intramural format. We will also look at adding new, lower-risk sports or activities to give students opportunities to participate and compete. We understand our students will be crestfallen if their favorite sports or activities don’t happen, which is why we're working hard to ensure they do happen if at all possible.
We hope to continue to at least play tournaments against other schools, where tight agreements about safety and hygiene can be made in partnership with other schools. When ACS hosts games or events, parents should also expect new distancing protocols for fans to reduce exposure.