Piedmont Phase 1 Reopening Plan and Social Distancing Policy
Effective as of June 15, 2020
In accordance with the Governor’s guidance regarding Delaware’s Phase I Reopening, youth sports may resume provided that social distancing may be maintained and that no competitions are held. Piedmont is fortunate that baseball and softball are sports that are conducive to social distancing. As we embark on the 2020 season, as a league we will nevertheless need to adapt our practices and games to some social distancing requirements. Set forth below is a summary of those changes which will be implemented and effective immediately as part of the league’s Phase I initiative. Once the Governor announces the Phase II guidelines, Piedmont will be establishing additional protocols to comply with those guidelines.
Phase I - Practice Only
The Board is of the view that it is in the best interest of the league and our families if we take an incremental approach as we transition into our Phase I Reopening. Accordingly, team practice will commence as follows:
(i) starting on June 15, 2020, practice will begin for the National League, 14U softball, 12U softball and all tournaments teams as well as the Babe Ruth level teams;
(ii) starting on June 22, 2020, practice will begin for the American League, 10U softball and 8U softball;
(iii) starting on June 29, 2020, practice will begin for the Farm League, Bambino/T-ball League and 6U softball.
Each team practice will be divided into two (2) sessions with half of the team attending the first session and the other half attending the second session. By dividing the team practice sessions in half, the total number of participants at any practice session (including coaches) should be ten (10) individuals or less. Managers and coaches may attend either or both sessions as long as coaches do not exceed the limit of ten (10) people in attendance at the session. The length of each practice will vary depending on the age of the players with older children practicing for longer intervals than younger children. Social distancing of a minimum of six (6) feet apart must be maintained at all practice sessions by both players and coaches. This includes while stretching, running and throwing as well as when utilizing the batting cages.
The guidance issued by the Governor on May 15th provides that “[c]oaches and staff must wear cloth face coverings in accordance with the State of Emergency Order.” The State of Emergency Order provides that* *“all individuals must wear a face covering . . . when they are in an outdoor public area, including state parks and golf courses, if maintaining social distancing of six (6) feet between individuals of different households is impracticable.” “This Order does not require that any child aged twelve years or less wear a face covering.”
Although children twelve (12) years and younger are not required to wear masks, parents may determine whether or not they want their individual child to wear a mask while at the fields and/or while playing. All managers and coaches should have a mask with them while coaching and if circumstances arise in which a manager or coach must come within six (6) feet of another person, then the mask must be used. The Board recognizes that maintaining social distancing with the younger players will be more challenging, thus effectively making a mask a requirement for coaches of those levels at all times.
Phase I of the Governor’s May 15th guidance does not allow for contact between coaches and/or players. Accordingly, managers and coaches should not be practicing elements of the game that include contact between players such as sliding tag plays. In addition, all coaching instruction must be done while maintaining the required six (6) feet of social distancing.
Dugouts and Spectators
Teams will not be utilizing dugouts at this time. Instead, markers will be placed at least six (6) feet apart along the fences on the right and left sides of each field. One player will be assigned to each marker. Parents of players nine (9) years or older should drop their child off at practice and may either leave the field area entirely or remain in their cars. Parents of children less than nine (9) years of age may drop their children off if they feel comfortable doing so. If not, then one (1) parent or guardian may remain at the field during practice but said parent or guardian must wear a mask and maintain the required six (6) feet of social distancing at all times. No other spectators will be allowed at the fields. Certain practices may be watched live via the Piedmont YouTube channel on Swift 1 and 2 as well as Doyle Field at the links set forth below.
Hand Washing and Sanitizing
All players and coaches must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after each practice session as well as any time he or she pauses to eat or drink. Balls should be disinfected periodically throughout practice sessions as deemed necessary but must be disinfected between sessions in accordance with the Phase I guidance requiring public surfaces to be disinfected every 15 minutes to 2 hours.
The league will be installing hand sanitizing and hand washing stations over the next few weeks, but all players and coaches are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer to the field for personal use.
Players may not share equipment of any kind, including, but not limited to, bats, gloves, hats, face masks and helmets. Nor may players and coaches share food and/or water bottles.
Sunflower Seeds and Spitting
Players and coaches will not be permitted to consume sunflower seeds while at the fields. Players and coaches should also refrain from spitting at all times.
The Snack Bar will not be open during Phase I. Coaches and players may bring water and/or snacks for their personal consumption only. The Snack Bar will only have ice available in the event of an injury.
Fields and Facilities Cleaning
Dugouts, bleachers and fences will be sanitized in accordance with the Governor’s guidelines for public spaces.
Parents and guardians must monitor their health and the health of their children at all times. If any manager, coach, parent, guardian or child has a fever above 99.5 degrees or otherwise shows symptoms of illness, he or she should not attend practice and should inform his or her coach accordingly.
NOTE: All of the foregoing is subject to change based on any revisions to the Governor’s guidance from May 15th and any new or currently existing emergency orders.
Despite these precautionary measures, the league cannot be certain that we will eliminate all potential exposure to or transmission of COVID-19 or any other virus. With that knowledge and understanding, each Piedmont family must decide for themselves whether or not they wish to play ball in 2020. Those that choose to play will be required to complete a COVID-19 waiver.
For those families choosing not to play this year, there are several options for your consideration.
As most families are aware, Piedmont is a 501©(3) non-profit organization. As such, our cash flow is very thin and each year the league spends virtually all the money that we collect in registration fees by the end of our fiscal year. The vast majority of our expenses are extended immediately prior to the start of the season for uniforms, equipment, insurance premiums, field prep work and related things. Unfortunately, all of those expenses were incurred prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and cannot be recouped by the league. In short, the league is not in a financial position to issue full refunds to every family. That is why our refund policy (found at the bottom of the main page of the website) states, in pertinent part, as follows: "Any refund requested for a registered player after tryouts, team selections (whichever comes first depending on the division) will be denied.”
Notwithstanding the foregoing policy, the Board understands that these are extraordinary times when it would not be appropriate to rely exclusively on that policy and has sought alternative sources of income for the league since the onset of the pandemic. Unfortunately, those efforts have been met with limited success. The Board applied for a grant through the CARES Act, but those funds were not available to the league because we do not have any paid employees. We are in the midst of applying for a grant through the Longwood Foundation, but the grant process for those funds is highly competitive and there is no guarantee that the league will be a recipient of that grant. The Board has successfully obtained a limited line of credit with M&T Bank. However, should we have to draw down on those funds, the league will, of course, have to repay the funds with interest.
In light of the foregoing, the Board has reviewed its current financial position and has determined that for those families facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus, the league will refund a portion of their registration fees. Unfortunately, the league must deduct from each player’s registration fees the costs associated with the purchase of uniforms, website administration fees and a small amount for field work and capital expenditures made to date.
(ii) Charitable Donation
For those families that can afford to do so, we ask that you consider donating all or a portion of your registration fees to the league as a charitable donation. Any family making such a donation will receive a letter from the league confirming the total amount of their donation for income tax purposes.
(iii) Credit for 2021
As a third alternative for those who choose not to play, we are offering a credit towards next year’s registration fees. The same deductions for expenses referenced above will also be deducted for those choosing the credit option.
We hope you can understand and appreciate our circumstances. The Board is doing all we can to make sure that Piedmont can weather this storm and is here for our kids for the years to come.
In the next few days, the managers and coaches from each team will be reaching out to each family to inquire as to whether their child or children intend to participate in 2020. Please update your child’s coach accordingly.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please visit our Q&A forum at http://reopening.piedmontbaseball.com