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Team of St. Louis medical experts collaborate on recommendations for safely resuming youth sports

Team huddles are out, along with handshakes and fist bumps


On Tuesday, a team of St. Louis clinical experts released a four-phase approach to bringing youth and high school sports back safely.

A variety of experts from BJC Healthcare, Washington University, Mercy, SSM Health and SLU Care collaborated to create the list of guidelines through one unified voice.

SSM Health Sports Medicine outreach manager Katie Smith said the list was designed for players, coaches, and parents involved with activities.

“We got together and realized we have a lot of different people who had different expertise to really look at science behind where we’re at,” Smith said. “And provide a road map for people to slowly introduce that activity and I think it’ll be really helpful because there’s just not a lot of information out there.” 

The list ranges from simple recommendations to more strict requests. Team huddles are out, along with handshakes and fist bumps. Coaches and officials will be asked to wear masks. 

The list also recommends that parents remain in their cars to watch practices and games moving forward.

Smith said safety is the top priority both for the athletes, as well as the adult coaches and spectators.

"The big recommendation that we decided on was that really these kids and these coaches and individuals who are at the organizations are gonna have to be screened properly before they do an activity,” Smith said. “Because even in phase one where we had a lot of social distancing applied there, the risk of transmission is still present."

SSM Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexander Garza said it’s also important that activities don’t all resume at once.

"We just have to take our time in phasing in a lot of these different activities just so that we can keep a handle on how much spread is going on in the community,” Garza said. “And then trying to figure out which ones can open at which times, and which ones are safe."

Smith said the consensus is that no team or organization should resume any sort of activities until June 15, at the earliest. 

"We need to see that continued downward trajectory of cases for longer,” Smith said. “Especially when we're reopening."

Smith added that these guidelines will change and be updated as healthcare officials learn more over time.

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