We are dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers, coaches, officials, staff, and all that contribute to the success of our athletes in training and events.
While preventing the spread of COVID-19 is and always will be our number one priority throughout this pandemic, we are also keenly aware of how the social isolation that has resulted from these last several months has taken a considerable toll on our athletes.
“We understand the need to connect and that Special Olympics programming is an integral part of their lives.” – Don Wigington, VP of Sports & Health Programs
With this in mind, we have worked diligently to create a four-phased Return to Play Plan that would gradually and safely reintroduce social distancing-friendly activities for our athletes. Through this plan, our athletes will be able to improve their physical and mental health, reconnect with friends, and reduce feelings of social isolation.
“While the general population struggles with social distancing, they have the means to reach out, get out, or find support from others,” said Don Wigington, Special Olympics Wisconsin’s VP of Sports & Health Programs. “Many of our athletes do not have some of these luxuries and social distancing ultimately becomes social isolation. We understand the need to connect and that Special Olympics programming is an integral part of their lives.”
As of August 1, 2020, we have entered Phase 1 – Small Group Activities. During this phase, activities of up to 10 people may take place if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols. No direct or indirect contact (e.g. through a ball in the hand) should take place during this phase. Training activities may only include pre-approved SOWI COVID-19 sports. SOWI COVID-19 approved sports for Phase 1 and 2 include Bocce, Flag Football skills, Golf, Cornhole, SOfit (Fall Outdoor: Aug – Oct) and Bowling, Volleyball skills, Rings, SOfit (Fall Indoor: Oct – Dec).
We have conducted extensive research and utilized expertise inside and outside the organization to assemble guidelines and policies that would best balance the safety of our communities with the need to reconnect our athletes and reduce their social isolation. As an accredited state program of Special Olympics Inc., we have relied heavily on their guidance through this process.
We also modeled our system after many other state and local programs, as well as other sports organizations, and provide guidelines that include a detailed approach to physical distancing, screening, training, and interactions to ensure consistent and best practices are followed to promote the health and safety of all participants and fans.
“Our Return to Play plan is a measured response to safely getting our athletes back on the training field with their friends,” Wigington said. “We are excited to get our athletes back into social activities that promote inclusion, health, fitness and fun.”
For more information, visit our Return to Play Plan webpage.