COVID-19 Protocols and Procedures
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, USA Ultimate regularly reviews and revises its related policies and procedures, keeping player and community safety at the forefront and as the number one priority. These protocols were developed based on the most recent recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and expert input from the USA Ultimate Medical Advisory Group, a panel of doctors and other health care professionals.
Contact COVID@usaultimate.org if you have questions about these policies or need to report an event-related COVID incident or infection prior to, during, or following an event.
Overview of Latest Updates (12/1/2021)
- For regional and national events, removed the option to wear a mask on the field instead of showing proof of vaccination or negative pre-event PCR test.
- Clarified that a positive test or close contact exposure of any event attendee requires the same response as on-field participants.
- Following CDC guidance, extended the post-exposure window for a vaccinated participant to be cleared through submission of a negative PCR test from 3 to 5 days.
- Added reference to participants on national teams and in international events, who may be subject to additional requirements.
Vaccinations, Testing and Masks
While outdoor sports and activities have been shown to be less risky in general than indoor activities, the nature of ultimate competition, primarily the close proximity that occurs between competitors when marking and stalling, may increase the risk of virus transmission. With that additional risk in mind, USA Ultimate developed the following protocols around vaccinations and testing for participants at sanctioned events.
These guidelines are designed to address two primary types of events – local, in which participants are residents of the same state; and regional or national, which include participants from multiple states.
A. At events in which participants are all residents of the same state*, all COVID-19-related safety standards, including mask requirements, are subject to the guidance of the relevant state and local authorities.
*All participants at college and club series events (sectionals/conferences and regionals) must follow the requirements for regional and national events, outlined below.
Regional and National Events
B. At events in which participants are traveling from other states, additional screening and/or COVID-19-related safety standards are required in addition to the relevant local health and safety regulations. These additional standards are designed to mitigate the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission commonly associated with travel to and from areas of the country where differences exist in infection and vaccination rates, community spread, healthcare system capacities, vaccine accessibility and local health regulations.
On-field participants at USA Ultimate-sanctioned events that include participants from other states must provide proof of vaccination or submit a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of the start of the event to be allowed to participate.
All on-field participants (e.g., players, coaches, observers) will be provided with the option to report their vaccination or testing status as part of the event registration process.
a. Proof of completed vaccination is defined as the person being at least two weeks past their final dose.
b. Negative COVID-19 PCR test results must be from a test sample taken within 72 hours of the start of the event and submitted prior to participation.
Participants who are vaccinated and/or submitted a negative PCR test can also continue masking as an additional safety measure. In addition, state or local regulations may still require participants to wear masks, regardless of vaccination or testing status.
Off-field mask requirements for all event attendees, including but not limited to parents, spectators, media, vendors, etc., will be subject to the applicable federal, state or local masking and other health and safety guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. In addition to following state and local guidelines, unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to wear a mask at all times while at the event, especially when six feet of distance cannot be maintained or whenever in an enclosed space (e.g., restrooms, tents).
Organizers will be responsible for checking registration materials, including vaccination or test status, and communicating expectations to participating teams and individuals. Any event attendee who tests positive for COVID-19 prior to the event may not attend unless they have gone through CDC and local health department requirements for isolation and return to activity. Any event attendee, including players, coaches, observers, volunteers, vendors and media partners, who tests positive during an event must report those results to the event organizer and follow CDC and local health department requirements for contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. Athletes, organizers, and coaches are expected to NOT participate if they feel under the weather, sick, or have come in contact with someone that may be sick.
Individuals and/or teams that do not comply with these or other event rules are subject to removal from the event and additional disciplinary action.
Members of the U.S. National Teams and participants at events that include international participants may be subject to further requirements, including policies implemented by the event organizers. Further details will be communicated to participants in National Team program activities and other international events.
These safety regulations are subject to change at any time, with or without notice, as the landscape of the pandemic, including the health and safety guidelines issued by various levels of federal, state, and local government, continues to shift. These guidelines are intended to provide greater flexibility at both the local and national levels while still offering a safe and cautious approach to returning to play, mitigate risk and provide reassurance to participants.
Health and Safety Violations
A participant who is unvaccinated and untested, or is not following other safety guidelines, is putting the health and safety of all our participants and their communities at risk. Such behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
- All registered team members are required to understand health and safety expectations coming into the event. All registered participants are required to sign an infectious disease waiver that includes an agreement to follow health and safety rules.
- Teams are responsible for all team members, including ensuring players who have not submitted proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result do not participate. A team may be disqualified for failing to enforce this requirement.
Positive Test and Exposure Policies for Events
In the event an event participant tests positive, the following policies and procedures will be implemented.
- The positive test result must be reported to tournament organizers as soon as it is received.
- The individual who tested positive will be removed from the event and barred from returning to the event site. They will be instructed to follow CDC guidance for isolation.
- The acting tournament official will contact the individual who received the positive test result to verify information about symptoms and test results, and to determine close contacts, as defined by the CDC. Procedures for conducting this interview will be provided to event organizers.
- Anyone determined to be a close contact (player, coach, observer, volunteer, vendor, media partner, etc.) will be removed from the event and barred from returning to the event site, regardless of vaccination status. They will be instructed to follow CDC guidelines for exposure. This guidance differs based on whether the exposed individual is vaccinated or unvaccinated.
- Vaccinated close contacts should monitor for symptoms, get tested 5-7 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until they receive a negative test result.
- Unvaccinated close contacts should quarantine, per CDC guidance, for 14 days.
- Close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, should not interact with other event participants or attendees for the duration of the event. If additional interactions occur with participants or attendees after the close contact interview, they must be reported to event officials.
- After close contacts are determined and removed from the event, the affected team and its remaining rostered team members will be allowed to continue playing under normal competition rules.
- If an event participant tests positive within two days of the end of the event, they must report the positive test to tournament organizers. The acting tournament official will follow the procedure outlined above, contacting the individual who tested positive and determining close contacts. Anyone determined to be a close contact will be notified by the acting tournament official and should follow CDC guidelines for close contacts.
- Any registered team member who tests positive for COVID-19 prior to an event may not attend unless they have gone through CDC and local health department requirements for isolation and return to activity. A report of this positive test must be made to USA Ultimate so that a contact tracing interview, focused on team members and potential event participants, can be conducted.
- Any participant who receives a positive test or is determined to be a close contact of someone who received a positive test must follow these guidelines before they will be cleared to participate in another event.
- Infected – Isolated for 10 days and confirmed with USA Ultimate that they are experiencing no symptoms (firstname.lastname@example.org). No test is required.
- Exposed – Vaccinated – Submitted to USA Ultimate results of a negative PCR test taken at least 5 days after exposure.
- Exposed – Unvaccinated – Quarantined for 14 days AND confirmed with USA Ultimate that they are experiencing no symptoms (email@example.com).
- Communication procedures will be provided to event organizers to assist in sharing decisions and other information with directly affected participants and teams. General information will be provided to other participating teams to inform them of a reported positive test result at the event and actions taken. This communication will not provide names or private, individual health information.
Event-Specific COVID-19 Protocols
In addition to COVID-19 policies in this document that apply to all events, event organizers are required to provide event-specific information about health and safety guidelines for their event. Often these regulations will differ from location to location, so it is important that these details are understood and followed by organizers and participants.
Event-specific regulations will typically cover best practices, including but not limited to:
- Mask-wearing indoors and outdoors
- Personal hygiene, including around food and water access and distribution
- Social distancing
- Field setup and team sideline and spectator regulations
- Reporting and communication
Contact COVID@usaultimate.org if you have questions about these policies or need to report an event-related COVID incident or infection prior to, during, or following the event.