Upon conclusion of our most recent SMHA Executive meeting, we are in a better position to share the following update with all.
As highlighted by the latest Hockey Canada statement on return to hockey in Canada, we will be working with our local authorities. Our Association is committed to working together to support the guidelines of our Provincial Health Officials and the expectations of our membership. We are working with the Province of British Columbia Health Authorities, City of Surrey, Hockey Canada, BC Hockey, Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association and WorkSafe BC.
Please be mindful that due to the fact that the season format is yet to be determined by our governing agencies, we unfortunately are not in a position to presently confirm ice times, player evaluation processes and practice and/or game schedules. There are respective ideas and hypothetical scenarios of what a hockey season could look like but its best not to speculate nor add to the uncertainty. At the present time, our Association is actively engaged with BC Hockey, the City of Surrey and on a weekly basis with PCAHA to collectively develop some level of certainty. We trust we will have something to collectively share on this topic in the not to distant future. We all agree that it is important to work towards developing one consistent format that all minor hockey programs can follow. We thank you for your patience.
While hockey families and sport volunteers are highly resilient, we want to help ensure they have the support they need to move forward during this time of uncertainty.
- Our Association, as well as other community organizations, will need to develop Return-To-Play (including a COVID-19 Safety Plan) policies for our players, parents, volunteers and service providers that adhere to protocols from respective Sport Authorities but that also align with the Return-To-Work priorities of our facility operators.
- WorkSafe BC expects every employer (including the City of Surrey) to have a COVID-19 safety plan that assesses the risk of exposure at the workplace and implements measures to keep workers safe.
- We, as a user group, will be working with the City of Surrey to help ensure a safe work/play environment for all at the North Surrey Sports and Ice Complex.The City of Surrey will be developing their own set of guidelines in line with Provincial Health Orders and recommendations and will require approval by the mayor or council. Municipal decisions will be made locally, community by community. This will impact sports organizations who use municipal facilities and/or multiple facilities across jurisdictions. Return-to-Play plans should account for this type of consideration (Sport Surrey: ViaSport – Return To Sport Guidelines)
Surrey Minor Hockey is working closely with PCAHA to develop our Return-to-Play Plan.
The Provincial Health Office’s direction is that Return-to-Play Plans should cover three things:
- Processes to open safely
- Measures to keep people safe and avoid further outbreaks
- A plan in the event that a case or an outbreak should occurOur sport has unique issues which need to be factored into our Return-to-Play Plan. Modifications and changes to standard practice will be required, and these modifications will need to be practical and tailored to our sport and participants. However, while there is some flexibility in how sport organizations develop their Return-to-Play Plan and deliver a return to sport activities in communities, all sport activities in B.C. must operate within current provincial health restrictions in order to promote the safety of our communities.Key considerations for planning currently include, but are not limited to:
- maintaining physical distancing
- minimal sharing of equipment
- focusing on skill development and small group training
- remaining focused on local communitiesEvery organization’s Return-to-Play Plan must include clear policies to ensure:
- no one with symptoms comes to the sport activity …
- participants have fewer workplace (rink) contacts (shorter times, fewer people), through such measures as staggered programs, smaller teams, occupancy limits …
- higher levels of frequent cleaning of ‘high touch’ areas of facilities and equipment, availability of hand sanitizer and encouraging good hygiene …Our plan must be based on an assessment of the risks present in our operation.
- Communications including signage and reminders should be used.
- Risks must be re-assessed and plans updated as needed, if circumstances change or as guidance is updated.The following are the five principles from B.C.’s Restart Plan:
- Personal Hygiene
- Frequent handwashing
- Cough into your sleeve
- Wear a non-medical mask
- No handshaking
- Stay Home if you are sick
- Routine daily screening
- Anyone with any symptoms must stay away from others
- Returning travellers must self-isolate
- Environmental Hygiene
- More frequent cleaning
- Enhance surface sanitation in high touch areas
- Touch-less technology
- Safe Social Interactions
- Meet with small numbers of people
- Maintain distance between you and people
- Size of room: the bigger the better
- Outdoor over indoor
- Physical Modifications
- Spacing within rooms or in transit
- Room design
- Plexiglass barriers
- Movement of people within spaces
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture works closely with viaSport BC to provide direction and oversight to the development and delivery of amateur sport in B.C. viaSport BC is a non-profit society that acts as an agent for the Ministry to enable the growth, governance, and stewardship of amateur sport in B.C. viaSport works closely with provincial and national sport partner organizations to align approaches, develop standards and policies, and follow the guidance of health officers to support the safety of sport participants, volunteers, coaches, suppliers, staff, and others within the eco-system.
Provincial sport organizations are also independent non-profit societies that work with viaSport BC and their national sport federations to align and set policies and practices for their membership. Each provincial sport organization is overseen by a Board of Directors that approves policies and is responsible for the oversight of the organization. Members of provincial sport organizations are required to follow and implement such policies. During this pandemic, the adherence to, and implementation of, these return to sport policies and practices for all members of provincial sport organizations, including clubs, associations, and individual members, will help promote the safety of our communities.
The opening of our registration on June 10th is one of our collective early steps of planning for the 2020-2021 season. We still have a few steps to go to help make our next season a safe and enjoyable one. While some protocols/guidelines may be unfamiliar and seemingly intrusive (possibility of limiting spectator involvement, requiring players to arrive at the rink wearing their equipment, limited use of arena dressing rooms, limited on-ice participants, competition restrictions, etc.), we do ask for your patience and understanding. We will be providing updates as information is made available in the process of planning for next season. Please be mindful that while the development of new guidelines that counter COVID-19 challenges will be new to all of us, the traditional compassion and commitment we have to the sport and to our participants remains unchanged.
Local leaders, health officials, sport and various community organizations will lead the charge to rediscover our “normal.” We are all proudly working together to help establish programs, modify regulations and launch processes to support our Return-to-Play guidelines and COVID-19 Safety Plan for our hockey community. Respectfully, we will need the support of all as we take the steps necessary to adapt to new ways of playing a sport with a long and cherished tradition that continues to bind families, friends, citizens and communities.
I will close by returning to themes we have consistently supported – understanding, patience and compassion. Please strive to maintain the capacity to continue to be understanding, patient and compassionate with your colleagues, fellow volunteers, friends and our hockey family. We will get through this together!
Surrey Minor Hockey Association