As most of our athletes and supporters likely know already, Special Olympics Wisconsin staff last month made the difficult decision to cancel competitions up through and including the Outdoor Sports Tournament. In light of guidance from Special Olympics Inc., the Wisconsin Department of Health and various health professionals, as well as current social distancing policies and limitations on gathering sizes, we no longer believe we can prudently proceed with these events as previously scheduled.
We know this is very difficult for our athletes who have been yearning to compete and be with their teammates and coaches once again. However, the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers, staff, and partners is our top priority. We serve a population where many are at a heightened risk to contract COVID-19 so we believe it is important to err on the side of caution on such a serious matter.
On a brighter note, we are actively working on a Return to Play plan that will follow Special Olympics, state and local government guidelines while keeping the health and safety of our athletes as the number one priority. This plan will take a multi-phase approach to getting athletes back to practicing in small groups of 10, to eventually participating in small regional competitions that will resemble local scrimmages and/or league play. There will be mandatory policies regarding participant screening, maintaining sterile equipment/environment, and incorporating social distancing into all activities.
At this time we expect that local programs who choose to do so will be able to return to SOWI-sanctioned activities on August 1. A survey is currently being submitted to our 160+ agencies to get a sense for agencies’ interest in returning to play and what they’d like to see in the transition back to competition.
We will have more information on the Return to Play plan after we analyze the data that results from this survey. In the meantime, any questions on this plan can be directed to Don Wigington, Vice President of Sports & Health Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We know how badly our athletes want to get back out and compete and we’re looking forward to providing an environment where they can begin to do so once again.
We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience as we, like every other organization in the country, continue to monitor the status of the pandemic and make difficult decisions about how to move forward while keeping the health and safety of our communities as a top priority.
We would also like to provide the following updates:
- The Special Olympics Wisconsin offices will be closed from July 6 –July 24. Offices will reopen on Monday, July 27th. If you have questions during this time, please reach out to Kathleen at email@example.com.
- While we were very excited to bring back the Leadership Conference this August, in light of the pandemic we have decided to postpone it until 2021.