Returning to Coaching: What the New Changes Mean

  • November 09, 2020

As of November 3rd, 2020, the Ontario Government has announced five (5) new colour-coded stages to tighten public health measures. Updates on gathering limits, where your region stands and more can be found in the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open document.

This image was taken from the Ontario Government’s COVID-19 Response Framework:
Keeping Ontario Safe and Open document.
Find out more

The City of Toronto will remain in the red zone for 28 days starting on November 14th until December 12th. This includes restrictions:

  • Indoor fitness classes are not permitted
  • Meeting and event spaces will remain closed

As of November 3rd, the Ontario Government has announced that Ottawa and Peel are in the Restrict (intermediate measures) – Orange zones, while York and Toronto public health unit regions are now in Control (stringent measures) – Red zones. Indicators will generally be assessed based on the previous two weeks of information. However, the movement to apply measures will be considered sooner than two weeks if there is a rapidly worsening trend.

Be sure to follow the advice from your Public Health Unit regarding additional measures during these times. If you do not reside in these regions, continue to follow your local protocols already in place.

For more information about current public health measures and Government of Ontario restrictions, including additional measures for targeted regions, click HERE.

Access your sport’s return to play guidelines and protocols

How Does This Impact Me As a Coach?

Ensure your club or organization has all participants sign a COVID-19 waiver confirming they understand the risks of returning to sport in a pandemic environment, have not been exposed to COVID-19 (or if so, 14 days have passed), are not experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, and their agreement to follow the provincial sport organization’s plan.

For more information on risk management and details on waivers in the sport environment click HERE.

According to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act:

In-person teaching and instruction:

5. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the person responsible for a business or place that is open and that provides in-person teaching or instruction shall ensure that every instructional space complies with the following conditions:

1. The instructional space must be operated to enable students to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the instructional space, except where necessary for teaching and instruction that cannot be effectively provided if physical distancing is maintained (spotting, etc.).

If you need to enter within that 2-mentre distance to assist your athlete, ensure that you have a mask and (if possible) gloves to maximize safety for all involved



Resources & Links

Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act: Rules for areas in Stage 3

Each Provincial/National Sport Organization throughout Canada has different return-to-play guidelines designed solely for their individual sports(s). Visit the sector-specific return to play guidelines to see what provisions affect your sport.

Don’t see your sport listed? Contact your PSO for more information.

Not sure how to reach your PSO? Visit our Contact Your Sport page.

Any equipment that is rented to, provided to or provided for the use of users of the facility must be cleaned and disinfected between each use or, where used in a game or practice, at the end of play, such as at the completion of a game or practice.

Activities must not be practised or played within the facility if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use or, where used in a game or practice, at the end of play.

Now that Stage 3 allows the public to resume more “normal” daily activities, this does increase the risk of spreading or caching COVID-19. Even by taking all the precautions you can, it’s important to know what steps to take if someone on your team was to test positive for COVID-19. Be sure to include this in your updated Emergency Action Plan and share this information with all participants, staff and spectators involved at practices/training.

  • If someone on your team begins to feel any symptoms of COVID-19, the first thing they should do is get tested. Ontario has various COVID-19 assessment test centres around the province.
  • If someone feels symptoms of COVID-19 OR tests positive, they need to let anyone they were in contact with throughout the last 48hrs know. If they were at a team practice, you or your COVID-19 manager will need to contact everyone who attended that practice and let them know they may have been exposed.
  • Anyone suspected of having COVID-19 or that was in contact with that person must stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days. You could be carrying the virus without knowing it. It is also suggested that you get a COVID-19 test to confirm your results.
  • After anyone on your team has had a COVID-19 test, they can access the results online OR they can contact the clinician who ordered their test.
  • If someone on the team tests positive, they must quarantine themselves inside their home. This means they DO NOT go outside to any public spaces until their clinician alerts them that they have completed their entire quarantine. A person who is quarantined will need to have someone pick up groceries or anything else they may need. They cannot do this on their own. As the coach, check and see if your athletes or staff have someone who can assist them in the way, if not, help coordinate someone to help with grocery drop off.
  • Once said person is cleared to come out of quarantine and has no symptoms of COVID-19, they can return to practice.

Resources & Links

COVID-19 Symptoms and Treatment (Ontario Government)

Find a COVID-19 Test Centre (Ontario Government)

How to self-isolate (Public Health Ontario)

Access your online COVID-19 Test Results (Ontario Government) – not ALL tests will be able to be accessed online. If you cannot access your test result online, please contact the clinician who ordered your test or your primary care provider.



It’s important that your athletes are prepared for what this new version of “training” will look like. A part of keeping everyone safe will be to provide athletes and coaching staff with reliable and easy-to-understand information regarding COVID-19 safety and returning to play.

These resources include proper hand-washing, physical distancing, how to wear a mask, and other tools that they can do on their own, prior to gathering with a group. It is vital that your team alerts you or the COVID-19 team lead if they start to feel unwell. As the coach, you may be responsible for turning athletes away if their health questionnaire displays that they could be a risk to others.

Inform athletes and staff of updated emergency procedures related to COVID-19. This includes the closest assessment centre to their training field/facility. Inform them that their attendance record contact information will be used if someone were to become ill.

Knowledge is power, giving some to your athletes alleviates work on yourself and staff if everyone stays updated and informed.

As Provincial organizations are releasing their return-to-play guidelines, you as the coach will be the main contact between your club and your athletes on safety protocols and measures.

Now that we can gather in larger groups does not mean we ease up on safety and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Some key documents you should have on you at practices going forward:

  • A COVID-19 Participant Agreement to inform the potential risk factors to all those involved.
  • An updated Emergency Action Plan with COVID-19 Assessment Centres nearby your training facilities
  • Daily Health Screening Questionnaire for athletes and staff to complete each practice
  • Hand washing station and/or hand sanitizer ready at all times
  • An attendance sheet to track who is attending practices. This should include first and last name, phone number, and email. If someone was to contract COVID-19, you would need to let everyone who was in potential contact with them that they should go get tested. This is an easy way to keep track.
  • It wouldn’t hurt to have some extra masks and gloves on hand in case there is an injury at practice that requires you to physically assist the athlete. Keep these items in the team first aid kit and make sure that those assisting the player are well protected before coming into contact.
  • With the rise of mask and glove use, we are seeing lots of litter across the province. If you or any of your athletes/staff are wearing PPE, have a garbage bag (or disposable bag) ready to properly dispose of those items after training.

Resources & Links

Participant Agreement SAMPLE (ViaSport BC)

Emergency Action Plan eModule (Available in your NCCP Locker account, under the eLearning tab)

COVID-19 Assessment Centre Map for printable version click HERE

Updating Your Waivers & Forms (Sport Law & Strategy Group)

There’s no easy way to turn away an athlete or staff member away from a practice – for any reason. However, the risk and potential consequences of not properly doing so if an athlete or staff member is suspected of having COVID-19 could be exponential. It is better to be over-cautious and find there is nothing wrong, then to have some accidently spread the virus.

One way to make these conversations easier:

  1. Have a conversation about health screening and identifying how you are feeling in a team meeting before training starts.  Let everyone know how it will work and that it is their responsibility to be truthful when declaring their health when they sign-in to practices.
  2. When having athletes sign the attendance sheet and fill out the health screening questionnaire, do it away from the rest of the group. Participants are currently still required to physically distance, so this makes it a bit easier. This way, if you need to turn someone away, you can have a private conversation away from the group.

It is important to note that these guidelines are to be used as a guide only. Nothing in this document is intended to provide legal advice. Do not rely on this document or treat it as legal advice.

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