Friday, October 23, 2020
Unfortunately, the Hockey Gods were not 100% aligned with Governor Baker and we will be taking (by mandate) what we all hope will only be a brief reprieve from the ice – no practices or games for two weeks beginning tonight at 5PM and running through 12:01AM on Nov. 7th.
I’d like to thank all our members – Participants, Parents, Coaches, our Board of Directors – for doing their best to manage and comply with all our new hockey protocols for the greater health and safety of our community.
As we all know, hockey is a fast game and a lot can change during the course of a period. Let’s keep our feet moving and carry on with strong sticks as we look forward. Fingers crossed that this is just a break between periods in our 2020-21 season!
As such, we aim to set up some dry-land hockey training – likely at Bud Orne with partnership from Parks & Rec. Stay tuned. Sign up genius and schedule forthcoming.
Naturally, any and all compliance (masks on and up with social distancing - "let's keep the 6!") will be in play for any such dry-land opportunities.
Let’s keep our collective helmet on and stay as positive as possible – it's disappointing news but we’ll make it through this.
-John Payne | MYHA
For those interested in the official announcements please find here:
MYHA will follow all state, local facilities (e.g., FMC and VHL rinks) and MA/USA hockey protocols as outlined below.
Above all, in the current pandemic environment, MYHA seeks to promote the safety, health, and comfort of our participants and their families at rink facilities and during MYHA scheduled events such as practices and VHL scheduled games.
If your participant is not feeling well, is sick, is exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms, or has been directly exposed* to someone that tested positive for Covid-19*, we ask that you hold your participant back - out of an abundance of caution - and refrain from participation in any MYHA events.
In the event of COVID symptoms, MYHA will embrace the following policies if a participant, parent, or Coach (participants) on any of our teams tests positive for COVID-19:
- If/when any participant tests positive, families of participants should notify MYHA immediately.
- Upon notification, MYHA will require all players on any impacted team to either a) self-quarantine for a period of 14 days (remaining symptom free) or b) receive a Covid-19 negative test result.
Participants must communicate negative test results to MYHA before returning to any MYHA events.
- MYHA will notify the team(s) that the player is on; the facilities where the player skated; the Valley Hockey League; and the local board of health; for the purpose of providing contact-tracing information.
Re: Facilities and Protocols. We ask that all of our families and their participants familiarize themselves with individual rink facility safety protocols and follow accordingly. In the event that you are not comfortable with a given facility's protocols or enforcement and are not comfortable attending or having your participant attend the facility, please hold your participant back and notify your Coach accordingly.
MYHA will offer feedback to rink facilities and management based on collective program observations and/or specific parental feedback. MYHA does not manage facilities nor manage facility-specific enforcement, rather we will focus on advocating for community protocol adherence and the overall safety and comfort of our participants and their families.
*A potential exposure means having household contact or having close contact (within 6 feet) with an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 for a prolonged period (over 15 minutes) while the person is symptomatic or 48 hours before symptoms developed.
Home Rink Expectations
- Everyone must wear a mask entering/exiting the arena – everyone - adults, kids - everyone!
- Players must go to assigned locker rooms, reach capacity, then utilize hallways/chairs as spillover areas to get dressed
- Lobby is a last resort – only six seats are identified in the lobby - please note this and respect accordingly
- Use correct entry and exit pathways at all times
- Coaches must always wear masks – always (this has been challenging to enforce)
- Parents if watching must be in the arena – not in the lobby – and social distanced accordingly on the bleachers or around the rink
FMC Ice Sports Guidelines:
October 9, 2020
Massachusetts Hockey has recently issued an advisory memo to all their member participants, coaches and administrators. Please take a moment to review it as it contains critical information on the state guidelines that are essential for us to safely continue hockey practices and games.
Some of the key points are:
- Face coverings ARE required for all players taking face-offs.
- Face coverings ARE required by all players and participants on the benches.
Face coverings ARE required by all participants not engaged in aerobic activity (coaches, timekeepers, referees, players off the ice, etc.).
- Team changing rooms are limited to 50% capacity as posted at the door and face coverings ARE required for everyone at all times in the changing rooms.
- ONE Spectator is allowed per participant for those under 21 years of age.
- Spectators must wear a face covering and maintain social distance at all times on the rink property.
- Participants (players, coaches, parents) may arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before a game, practice or skills session.
All participants must exit the arena as quickly as possible following their game, practice, or lesson.
As you know, FMC Ice Sports has developed policies and procedures based on the state rules for safe amateur sports. In a few cases we may exceed the state requirements in order to achieve a safe environment within the limitations of our facilities.
We ask you to please understand that these guidelines are for the health and safety of you and your family and not meant to inconvenience you. They are also for the health and safety of every other person in the facility, including staff who are at the greatest risk due to extensive contacts throughout the day. By following the guidelines you are showing your respect and care for everyone and allowing us to continue to stay open and keep players on the ice.
Some of the compliance issues that we see include:
- Coaches not keeping players distanced or enforcing face coverings on the bench.
- Players not adhering to the posted occupancy limits for the changing rooms.
- Parents bringing spouses or other siblings with them into the rink in violation of the one person limit.
- Parents / coaches / players congregating in the lobby or parking lot in violation of the physical / social distancing rules.
In almost every case, the people violating the rules are not doing it intentionally and they correct the situation immediately when it is brought to their attention. Our challenge is that we cannot be everywhere to see and correct these situations when they occur and we ask that you please maintain your awareness and even proactively address others to remind them of the COVID-19 rules that we must follow.
The ability for us to remain open and on the ice depends on everyone making their best effort to be in full compliance. There has already been instances of cities shutting down all recreation or indoor recreation as they see a spike in positive cases. That could end the season or significantly impact hockey for thousands of players / families if it continues and expands. We need to work cooperatively together as arena managers / staff, parents, players, coaches and administrators to ensure our sport is safe and in full compliance until this pandemic recedes.
Thank you so much for your patience and support through all of this. We WILL get back to normal at some point in the future and sincerely appreciate your patience and loyalty to the sport and rinks as we work together through these very difficult times!
We are thrilled to have all FMC Ice Sports locations back open and filled with skaters again! With the return to the rinks, we thought now would be a good time to share the most up-to-date rink operating procedures to ensure a safe return to skating. You can read the full SOP at the link below but some highlights:
- Face coverings are required throughout the entire building with the exception of participants on the ice who are engaged in aerobic activity. Coaches / instructors / officials are not exempt from the face covering rule when on the ice. Learn to skate and figure skating participants should wear face coverings on the ice unless involved in highly aerobic skating.
- Only one parent/guardian/chaperone should accompany a youth participant but it is encouraged that the parent/guardian/chaperone return to their vehicle or the parking lot (socially distanced) when possible.
- No spectators are allowed for activities involving adults 21 and older.
- Do not enter the rink until 15 minutes before your skate.
- Participants on the ice must be in cohorts (groups) of no more than 25 and socially distanced as much as possible. Two cohorts may use the same sheet of ice but must be separated by 14' in all directions and the total cannot exceed 25 including coaches.
- No movement between cohorts is allowed.
- Coaches / instructors must wear a face covering and are included as part of the cohort.
- Participants on the bench are not considered part of the 25 cohort so teams sharing ice may rotate players on the bench so long as the players remain in the same cohort at all times and the number on the ice does not exceed 50 total.
- Team rooms are available at 50% occupancy with the occupancy posted at the door. Please follow instructions and diagrams on site regarding storage of equipment during your skate and changing out of equipment at the end of your skate.
- Face coverings are required while on the player bench, in the penalty box, and during stoppages in play.
- Skaters must maintain social distancing while on the player benches.
Working together is the best way for all of us to return to a new normal and we are appreciative of all of the efforts made by so many of you already. We can't wait to see you all on the ice.
FMC Ice Sports
Valley Hockey League Game Guidelines for Players and Coaches:
The Valley Hockey League and all league members were extremely excited to kick off the 2020-21 regular season on September 12th. It is great to see all the young hockey players back on the ice and enjoying the game they all love.
However, as all of you are aware there are very specific State Mandated Protocols and Rink Specific Protocols that must be adhered to by players, coaches, parents/guardians and rink operators in order to keep the players on the ice. Unfortunately, we have experienced persistent non-compliance from parents/spectators. This not only presents a risk to all the players and coaches, but also is in violation of state and local guidelines and could result in the rinks being fined and/or closed by the local board of health. Several rinks have informed the VHL that if the non-compliance continues they will move to a NO Spectator Policy for the remainder of the VHL season!!
- 1 Parent/Guardian per player this a strict policy at all VHL Rinks that has blatantly disregarded. Parents arriving with siblings will be asked to leave the arena.
- Some rinks have imposed a more stringent No Spectator Policy for players age Squirt and older.
- Please make sure you read the Rink Specific Protocol before arriving at a rink and understand what is expected and required at each rink.
- Face coverings are mandatory at all times!
- We ask players, parents and coaches self-monitor their teams’ players and parents.
It would be extremely unfortunate if the VHL needed to implement a No Spectator Policy due to a few individuals’ unwillingness to follow the State Mandated Rules and Guidelines.
Coaches on Bench:
- The VHL will be imposing a strict limit of 2 coaches on the bench per team effective immediately.
- Coaches must wear face coverings at all times!! No exceptions!!
- Coaches are responsible for ensuring players social distance on bench
Players on Bench:
- Players must social distance on bench!!!
- Players must wear face coverings at all times in building and on the bench, only exception is during play on ice.
- Centers and wingers must wear face covering during faceoffs.
- Venues where there are 2 rows of benches, players must evenly divide between front and back benches.
- Venues where extended benches are provided, 4-6 players must use extended area depending on total number of players.
Players & Coaches
- May not arrive more than 15 minutes prior to faceoff and must leave 15 minutes after end of game.
- May not linger around locker room area, or stay to watch games before or after
- All players must remain in locker room or skate tying area until the buzzer sounds for them to take the ice for warmups.
Mite Half Ice:
- Mite players must arrive dressed and should arrive dressed with skates and skate guards.
- Mite teams should be comprised of 9-11 players total.
- Mite teams are limited to 2 coaches on the bench, no exceptions!
- Mite teams must remain in the locker room or designated skate tying area until it is time to take the ice for warmups.
- Timekeeper will sound the buzzer for the start of warmups
- We can not have multiple teams/players in the hallway or behind the bench area when 4 teams from the previous game are coming off the ice.
- For mite games at Hockeytown and Chelmsford there are 2 rows of benches, players should be equally spaced on the front and back benches. All other venues provide extended benches.
- Mite players must wear facecoverings on bench. Face coverings are not required on the ice since face-offs have been eliminated for X-Ice Mites Games.
- 1 SPECTATOR PER PLAYER!!! No exceptions! Any parent arriving with siblings or other family members will be asked to leave the arena. Continued non-compliance could result in parent being banned from building or the player being suspended from the league.
- Parents are absolutely prohibited from entering the locker room!!
- Parents are not permitted behind the benches or in front of the locker rooms as teams are coming off/on the ice!!!
- The Rink Specific Protocol for most X-Ice Facilities is that once the game is complete players will take their bags and proceed to the designated skate untying area. Parents can meet the players in that area but should allow enough room for all players to enter the skate untying area uninhibited and social distance.
All of these rules and protocols have been implemented to ensure the safety of all players and coaches. Everyone must comply if we want our sons and daughters to continue playing the game we all love. We look forward to great hockey season and thank all of you for your continued particpation and support of the Valley Hockey League!!
Massachusetts Hockey COVID-19 Policy
Massachusetts Hockey, Inc. is committed to providing a safe environment for its participants/spectators, consistent with all applicable standards, mandates and best practices.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has issued Workplace Safety and Reopening Standards for Businesses and Other Entities Providing Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities – Phase III, Step 1. These standards require that Minimum Mandatory Standards for Modification to Play be met to allow ice hockey facilities to operate and continue to operate.
Pursuant these standards, Ice Hockey has been designated as a Higher Risk sports and recreational activity. The standards include Social Distancing, Hygiene, Staffing and Operations, Cleaning and Disinfecting, and Protective Equipment and Facial Covering standards, there are Protective Equipment and Facial Covering for All Sports. There are standards relating to Protective Equipment and Facial Coverings that are specifically applicable to ice hockey games.
Pursuant to the standards:
Facial coverings must be worn by all participants except:
- During high intensity aerobic or aerobic activities, swimming, water polo, water aerobics or other sports where individuals are in the water; or
- When distancing of 6 feet or more is possible between participants whenever feasible; or
- For individuals that are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability
Otherwise, Activity Organizers must require facial coverings to be worn while engaged in an activity wherever possible.
Some sports by their nature involve intense aerobic activity throughout play. For these sports, it is required that players use facial coverings when possible, taking frequent breaks when they are out of proximity to other players using caution to avoid touching the front or inside of the face covering by using the ties or ear loops to remove and replace. For example, soccer players should have facial coverings with them at all times, and where possible play with the facial covering on, removing it for long runs down the field, for plays without close contact, and in the goal; baseball/softball batters must wear facial coverings while at bat; lacrosse or hockey players participating in face-offs must wear facial coverings. Participants for ALL SPORTS must wear facial coverings on the bench at all times and in any huddles or time-outs.
Coaches, staff, referees, umpires, and other officials are required to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing of 6 feet from players, coaches, spectators, and other persons at all times.
Massachusetts Hockey, Inc. expects that all ice facilities, leagues, associations, coaches, referees, timekeepers, players, volunteers, parents and spectators, will abide by all government, USA Hockey and Massachusetts Hockey, standards, rules, policies and procedures related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
This encompasses all mandates, restrictions and standards issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including those issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts EEA in its Workplace Safety and Reopening Standards for Businesses and Other Entities Providing Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities – Phase III, Step 1, and subsequently issued Phases, Steps, updates, cancellations and/or revisions thereto.
While rink operators may bear the ultimate responsibility for the implementation of the applicable standards within their ice facilities, as a condition of their facilities being allowed to remain open, activity organizers, including coaches, teams, leagues and associations shall likewise be responsible for ensuring their members implement the Commonwealth of Massachusetts EEA standards and guidance during all hockey activities within any ice facility, including both on the ice and bench during games. The activity organizer, including coaches, shall be responsible for ensuring the standards are being followed on the bench and ice during games.
No player(s) shall be allowed to take a face-off if not wearing a face covering. Any player that lines up to take a face-off draw without a face covering shall be ejected by the referee from the face-off circle and another player shall take the face-off draw. Massachusetts Hockey considers a face covering to be a piece of Protective Equipment as described in USA Hockey Playing Rule 304. After the first ejection from the face-off circle, the corresponding bench shall be warned, and further violations of these standards may result in a penalty for an equipment violation pursuant to Rule 304(g)1 – Protective Equipment.
As provided on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' website
- If you would like to report a sports league, team, business or workplace that is noncompliant with the Sports Guidance, issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, please reach out to the Local Board of Health where the non-compliance occurred.
- After contacting your local board of health, you may contact the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) through their hotline: (508) 616-0461 x 9488 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. DLS will call or email you if an investigation is determined to be warranted within 72 hours if an investigation is warranted.
1 Rule 304(g) All players must wear the required, or recommended, protective equipment in the manner for which it is designed. For violation of this rule, following a team warning, a misconduct penalty for an equipment violation shall be imposed.