Orienteering USA’s SARS-COV2 Task Force is currently developing recommendations for holding events at both the local and national level in light of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. The Task Force recently released a DRAFT
document for comments. Comments from the US orienteering community can be made directly on the linked document.
Read the Full Announcement
on the Orienteering USA website.
I'm disappointed that this topic has not generated more discussion here. Is there a fait accompli (what is done is done) attitude that we are not going to be holding orienteering competitions in the USA for a long time to come?
I believe that we can hold competitions and we can make it a safe experience for our participants and officials. I commend the members of this task force for the work done so far. There may be more suggestions that can be added. Perhaps some can be discarded as overkill.
I write this because of a recent exchange of e-mails with a park official. He writes that as of now orienteering would be considered like every other group activity and not be allowed in their jurisdiction. HOWEVER if we can come up with a safe plan of operation then yes orienteering, like golf for instance, could be allowed.
In short: No plan means no permission but a safe plan means orienteering competitions could be welcomed back. To me it is worth the effort.
Gord, perhaps there's no discussion here because people have made comments directly on the draft plan, as invited. From past experience, the OUSA board has indicated that discussion on Attackpoint is not considered as part of the official comments / input on OUSA proposals. (whether or not you or I might believe that is shortsighted, is a whole different issue). Discussion here is great, but it may not catch the eye of the decision makers unless its copied into their draft or sent directly to them.
The draft, as presented, is largely what was developed by one OUSA club, then refined by an OUSA committee, pulling together best practices from a number of different sources. As it stands, its pretty good. I agree that one or two pieces of the plan might be overkill or not applicable to all clubs / situations. And there might be an idea or two that's been missed, perhaps even because those people involved to this point just assume that its obvious, or perhaps there are more creative ideas that haven't been thought of yet.
At least 2 OUSA clubs (BOK and OCIN) are now regularly doing small local events; essentially the draft plan is what is actually being done successfully by these clubs. A couple other clubs appear to have plans to start regular events (as opposed to do-it-yourself, permanent courses, or UsynligO) soon.
It is important that clubs have a plan they are able to submit to landowners (OCIN's plan has been enthusiastically received by landowners, even ones that are still not issuing permits for any events), but it is also important that the plan accurately reflects what you can and will actually do.
OUSA's overall guidelines will need to be adaptable to clubs across a very large and diverse country - from states and cities that are under a virtually total lockdown, to others where pretty much anything goes. In general, I think this plan does a good job of providing safety guidance for organizers and participants without being too extreme in either direction.
COC has also been doing some great work in figuring out the plan for WIOL starting in the late fall and has shared their draft with the OUSA task force (thanks!). Once that document becomes final, it will be another good example for large clubs, especially those that work with youth.
Yes Mike I of course looked at the comments on the draft document. That is why I posted here. I don't really think it matters whether there are quotation marks here or there, etc.
So what if Attack Point is not considered official comment by O-USA. It has been in the past a useful sounding board for ideas. I know that with smartphones increasingly in play it is tough for many to exercise their thumbs enough to produce comment. So be it.
However, almost 100% of my O-USA club's orienteering is with large groups of youth - JROTC and now increasingly scouts. The current low-attendance standard will not work to bring them back into the game. Presumably these groups will be in their own 'bubbles' (Is that term in use in the States?) We need a protocol that allows them to come orienteering without bursting their bubbles.
Gord, I agree that working with large groups of youth will be a challenge. For that matter, I'm wondering which organizations will even let their kids participate in big events - we will have to see if the JROTC and schools are even doing field trips and activities in the fall.
I'm looking forward to seeing what WIOL, Navigation Games, and others come up with as far as ideas. At OCIN, we also are starting to think ahead about how things might work - in early fall we have events scheduled: at one we expect 100-200 JROTC plus another 100-200 college ROTC. We really don't have a firm plan yet to handle those kind of numbers. We also have a large scout event in the fall - for that event we are considering a number of ideas for instruction (using technology such as Zoom rather than face to face) and for a score-O competition (considering an idea something like the "scramble start" commonly used in charity golf events - having each troop start from different pre-assigned points). We're certainly welcoming any ideas for ways to deal with these much larger groups... It may just not be possible to have them all in the same place at the same time.
Mike, you could probably use some of the resources we've put together for the coaching course to support online instruction for your scout-o. If that starts to become your reality (or anyone else's), please reach out and we'll see what we can do.
We've had good luck locally putting courses out over a weekend (or longer) and allowing scouts to use QR codes or Usynlig-O to punch. I also had a scout take old-school photos and write a four-page report analyzing her course (with associated height and width measurements as requested), so that works, too.
It's a bit more challenging for a competitive event being stretched over a period of time with self-serve maps. If students print their own maps, do you just accept that they're allowed to look at them ahead of time? What do you do for the kid whose phone hiccups when it's time to punch? Or if your park is in an area without connectivity?
Mike and others:
Here is what I have whipped up to propose for Florida JROTC and scout competitions. It is important to note that all JROTC entries in Florida competitions run as individuals. The competitive aspect is highly valued by all who participate and between the two clubs the total JROTC participation in a normal year is over 3,000 entries in 16+ events.
Before I send this to park and JROTC officials I would appreciate serious comment from experienced event officials. This is meant to be an addendum to the O-USA guidelines and meant to assure officials from both bodies that we can hold events where the participants are as safe as if they were back in their own school bubble.
Additional Recommendations for Florida JROTC competitions
Assumes each JROTC unit/ scout group etc is its own 'quarantine bubble' and they are not to interact or be required to interact closely with another 'bubble'.
• Assign teams assembly points suitably separated from each other. Orienteers only to leave their area to visit heads, Start and return from Finish When not on the competition course all participants, officials and helpers are to wear a safety mask at all times.
• All event officials should wear safety masks all the time.
Each competition begins with a safety briefing where teams are brought together to review the rules of the competition and how to successfully return to the assembly area using a set compass bearing/ azimuth to a boundary road or fence, etc.
• Eliminate the assembly for the safety briefing and send the information to entered unit ahead of time.
The Competition Itself
At our regular competitions the participants go on one of three or up to six courses – each a series of checkpoints where they use the map to navigate to and check in. How they go to each checkpoint is up to the individual entry. They check in at each point using a small timing stick worn strapped to a finger that records the time at each checkpoint. Participants start at timed intervals of at least one and up to three minutes, one person per course. It is already extensive social distancing.
Additional distancing measures:
• The start time block will be divided with half of the teams starting in the first half of the event, half in the second.
• Each team will have its own start line with an official from each team responsible for controlling and separating the start times for their team. Each team’s assembly for the start will be at least 2 meters (6 feet) from the next.
• Participants must keep distance from each other during the competition. This of course is waived in the rare case of injury or other distress.
• Once a participant has finished and downloaded their result he/she is to return to the team’s ‘bubble’.
• Once finished each participant must re-apply their mask.
• Maps will not be collected from the participants. They are to take the competition map and their timing printout back to their ‘bubble’ and not show to other participants that have not yet started. The maps and printouts should also be ‘sanitized’ by a team volunteer.
• Once the whole team is finished and accounted for the team is to leave the area. Trophies and medals will be sent to the winning units after the competition.
• Food service will not be offered at events until further notice. Teams/ participants should bring their own food and drink refreshment.
Gord & others - please be sure to add your comments to the draft linked at the top of the thread or send comments directly to the committee. Since AttackPoint is not an official OUSA media channel and is but one of numerous venues in which this draft is being circulated, comments made on this thread may not be picked up by the committee members and worked into the draft recommendations.
Committee may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
OUSA I will eventually figure out how to add comments to your google doc but in the meantime and before I circulate to JROTC and park officials in our area of influence I am asking for informal comments from experienced eyes by way of Attack Point.
Just a quick reaction after reading through your comments a couple of times. Seems like you have put together a reasonable list of guidelines for your events. It will be interesting to see what sort of restrictions the schools place on their students and on field trips.
Another concern might be the weather. Seems like everyone might want to go back to their vehicles in the case of a thunderstorm and not look to congregate in shelter or building.
Appears to be a good amount of overlap with draft ideas in OUSA document.
Gord, I think it generally looks very good, I'd relax the mask requirement for competitors to just when they are outside of their "bubble", eg going to the head . The individual schools can decide whether its required when they are in their own group.
Perhaps it is time for an update.
Halfway through the 2020-21 Florida orienteering season we see the two clubs with two different approaches each to their public and JROTC clients/ participants.
Florida Orienteering has been using iOrienteering for all their events and the events are open forever. JROTC have month-long competitions within the iOrienteering envelope selecting a different venue each month. FLO is now migrating over to MapRunF for their event program/ app.
Suncoast Orienteering has resumed live events with many restrictions which I would like to describe:
Events are for pre-registered JROTC only. Participation is a bit down from previous years but the average participation is close to 150 and in two weeks that event scheduled has been 'sold out' at just over 200 participants.
Each team comes and stays to itself.
O-USA covid rules are followed.
Plus to increase team spacing for most events we divide the teams into 'start waves' All the cadets from one group of teams will have first starts say at 0900 and finish starting by 1000. Next group has first start at 1030 and finishes starting at 1130 and so on.
We changed up our start procedure. On the start line at one time are only cadets from one school, males the even minute, females the odd minute. So there is a minimum of two minutes between participants on the same course. I build in four minutes between participants from the same school on the same course.
Does it work? Touch wood; it seems to work. We had a report that one cadet from one school got his positive Covid test result after returning from the event. He had been tested before and yes should not have come but he did and that school had to deal with it.
However, as we hoped, our restrictions, spacing and cleaning seems to have worked. Two weeks later and no reports of Covid spread to other teams present at that event. Another event a week later and no reports. Our first live event back in November also reported no cases among participants.
Three live events down; four to go. I am cautiously optimistic we can get through this orienteering season without Covid incident. The key is to have vigilance all around and so far we are getting it. And the lucky participants are so much better for the chance to get out, be active and compete in an activity that is inherently socially distancing.
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