In consultation with the Chief Public Health Office (CPHO), the Sport and Recreation division of the Department of Health, and Sport PEI, Baseball PEI and its minor baseball associations have created a plan for return-to-play for the 2020 summer season.
As outdoor team sports are permitted to be on the field on 1 June – as part of Phase #3 of the Renew PEI Together plan – Baseball PEI will be lifting its suspension of all activities on 1 June. This means that associations and groups are allowed on the field, provided they follow the rules laid out by the CPHO in regards to Phase #3. For example, during Phase #3, there can be a maximum of twenty (20) people at an outdoor gathering and physical distancing must take place. Baseball PEI and its minor baseball associations will follow the rules and guidelines set out by the CPHO. This means for the month of June, associations will conduct tryouts, practising and training in ways that has a maximum of twenty (20) people – including coaches and players – at the field at one time (for any 8U, 9U or 11U programming, it is acknowledged that sometimes children need a parent/guardian with them at the field for help and assistance. If deemed absolutely necessary, one parent/guardian can be at the field during a practice, provided they observe physical distancing at all times. Please note that if a coach is also a parent/guardian, that child cannot have another parent at the field. For programming at 13U and older, parents/guardians will drop off their children and either leave or wait in their vehicle to ensure that the maximum number of people in an outdoor gathering does not exceed twenty (20). Baseball PEI will not be scheduling any games during June.
According to the CPHO, the maximum number of people permitted in an outdoor gathering will rise from twenty (20) to a higher number on 1 July (that exact number is not yet known). As such, starting on 2 July, Baseball PEI will be scheduling regular-season games for July and August at all categories. There will be no tournaments on Prince Edward Island this summer except for Provincial Championships. Baseball PEI is also looking to hold Provincial Championships at the conclusion of the regular season; this may take place at the end of August or in early-to-mid September, depending on a few factors. Baseball PEI will announce the dates and formats of Provincial Championships for 11U “AA” and higher in mid-July.
With that being said, there will be many differences in baseball programming this summer. Some examples of this will be that certain game rules will be adjusted at all levels to maintain physical distancing and unintentional physical contact. Players will have to use their own gear, and in situations where gear must be shared (i.e. aluminium/composite bats, catcher’s gear), the gear must be thoroughly sanitized/disinfected before another player using it. Dugouts will only be allowed to have a certain number of people in them at one time, based on the length (for example, if a dugout is twenty (20) feet long, only a maximum of four people could be in the dugout at one time to maintain proper physical distancing), and anybody else on that team will have to be outside of the dugout. Dugouts will have to be sanitized after each game by the team using them. More time will be allotted between games and practices for teams to sanitize and leave the field before another group coming to the field. Parents/guardians/fans will have to drop off their child and watch from their vehicle and will not be able to go to the field to watch games/practices. Players/coaches cannot go to the field unless completely healthy. There will be no spitting, gum, sunflower seeds or anything that could produce droplets from the respiratory tract. The link to our Return-to-Play document can be found here: https://cdn3.sportngin.com/attachments/document/e5d3-2167469/2020_Baseball_PEI_RTP_Guidelines.pdf#_ga=2.156348091.1061093323.1589804449-1954251289.1583858777 (please note that this is subject to change, based on feedback/guidelines from the CPHO).
This is a time and situation that requires some fluidity and creativity. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to change rules and policies between now and the start of the regular season, and even into the regular season, based on the health and safety our players and members. As well, the membership of Baseball PEI should be aware that if there were to be a spike in cases in Covid-19 on PEI, our programming could be suspended instantly by order of government. It should also be noted that if there were issues with players, teams, parents/guardians and fans breaking physical distancing measures and/or maximum outdoor gathering rules at Baseball PEI-sanctioned activities, minor baseball associations and Baseball PEI could be subject to further warnings and even possible shutdown of activities if these issues take place multiple times. Now, more than ever, we need the Island baseball community to work hard and come together to ensure all rules and guidelines issued by Baseball PEI and the CPHO are met and followed, for players to have the best possible experience this summer.
Our goal is to maintain a balance between our children and young players having a fun and rewarding summer with their health and safety. At times, it can be a difficult balance, but Baseball PEI and its member associations are committed to this for the summer of 2020. There will be some added difficulties. It will involve constant vigilant reminders from parents, guardians and coaches to players about observing physical distancing and the modified rules in place. It will also involve parents/guardians having to drop off their young ballplayers and either leave or watch from their vehicle. It will involve changing habits that have been ingrained in many people for years, if not decades. However, at the end of the day, the focus is on the children of Prince Edward Island playing the great game of baseball enjoyably and safely this summer. During these difficult and unprecedented times, Baseball PEI is very excited to have the opportunity to offer baseball programming. To do this effectively, it will take efforts from all stakeholders, from Baseball PEI to minor baseball associations, umpires, players and coaches, parents and guardians. There will be challenges; however, the challenges are worthwhile for our children to play the great sport of baseball this summer. We expect the baseball community on PEI to rise to this challenge in order to provide fun and rewarding programming to our membership this summer.
In less than two weeks, let’s play ball!
Stratford Minor Baseball Association
Stratford, Prince Edward Island - Canada
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