March 2021 Recommendations

Audience Guidelines for COVID-19 Return to Play, Potential Cardiac Effects of COVID-19, Vaccine Adjustments, New Variant

WFTDA Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination

When the WFTDA initially wrote the guidelines in spring 2020, we did not anticipate that vaccine development would outpace therapeutics, and as such, in this new version of the document we have updated later tiers of the return-to-play ladder to reflect this.

The WFTDA is grateful for the community’s adherence to our COVID-19 Guidelines as we work together to keep our skaters, officials, supporters, and families safe. The recent development of several COVID-19 vaccines is a welcome sign in the rebuilding of the sport of roller derby, but we know the anxiety that our teams and clubs are feeling around our future return can be overwhelming.

One reality we’re faced with is the inequity and timing of the vaccination rollout worldwide. Larger countries with more financial resources are able to offer vaccines to more populations faster, while smaller, less-resourced nations are asked to wait. While the WFTDA can’t control this, we’re aware that it offers another barrier to our sport that is frustrating.

The WFTDA fully supports our community members getting vaccinated, if and when they are able to. We believe in science, and putting lives before the return of our sport is essential to living our values. But we also recognize that vaccination rollout will be inequitable at best, and that each person’s health and healthcare system may make it impossible for some folks to get vaccinated.

We have adjusted some of the Stepping Up guidelines for the later tiers of the guidelines to account for vaccines being available early and for the fact that COVID-19 may be present in our communities for years to come. However, until the vaccine is widely available and members are able to get it as they wish, and community infection rates drop to the levels prescribed in our baseline conditions, we ask that you continue along the COVID-19 Return to Play Tiers. We will continue to assess the recovery of our countries, municipalities, states, cities, and towns to help you manage your league’s path back to roller derby.

Audience Guidelines for COVID-19 Return to Play

The WFTDA has released the WFTDA Audience Guidelines for COVID-19 Return to Play. These guidelines are meant to work in tandem with our 2020 COVID-19 Return-to-Play Guidelines released in Spring 2020 and updated in August 2020 and January 2021. Our WFTDA Return-to-Play Guidelines were developed by observing and incorporating information about the impacts of COVID-19 in regions around the world where roller derby is played.

For leagues sanctioning games or for leagues that hold WFTDA insurance, these new Audience Guidelines provide required adjustments to the venue setup guidelines in the WFTDA Risk Management Guidelines under Sections 3.1 Spectator Seating and 3.2 Barriers until further notice from the WFTDA.

Keeping our community, and communities who come in contact with WFTDA members, as safe and healthy as possible should be a primary goal for every skater, official, coach, announcer, and support staff member the WFTDA comes into contact with.

We recognize that our members and partners are actively seeking the restart of roller derby and ticket sales to overcome the economic impacts of COVID-19, we would like leagues to welcome back audiences on the same slow progression and with the same increased attention to health protocols that we recommended for league skating activity. It is important to share that our Audience Guidelines are built with health and safety as a priority.

While we agree that leagues may be ready to attempt a return, exposing fans and non-participants to potential risk of infection for the benefit of our sport is not acceptable. We ask our WFTDA members to join us in prioritizing lives as we set about rebuilding the sport following the COVID-19 pandemic.

We do not recommend that our members welcome in-person audiences, as stipulated in the final tiers of the ladder and in our Audience Guidelines have provided recommendations for managing smaller audiences once the league has reached Tier Five on the ladder.

Highlights from the requirements for sanctioned games and for leagues under WFTDA insurance include:

  • Audience capacity capped at 25% of your venue’s normal capacity and only including friends, family and other colleagues who are already part of your derby community;
  • An adjustment to Section 3.1 of the Risk Management Guidelines to extend the zone between the our Officiating Lane (Zone D) and spectators to 10 feet (3.05 meters) and between team benches and spectators to 15 feet (4.57 meters);
  • An adjustment to Section 3.2 of the Risk Management Guidelines to prohibit seating of spectators within 15 feet (4.57 meters) of openings used during gameplay.

Highlights from recommendations for managing audiences and protecting volunteers include:

  • Advance reservations to allow for contactless payment, social distancing of seating, and collection of basic contact information in the event of an exposure at the event;
  • Limiting seating groups to no more than 5 people (“Pack it up”) no closer than 10 feet (3.05 meters) from each other (“Destroying the pack”);
  • A requirement for all spectators to wear masks fully covering their nose and mouth, temperature checks prior to entry;
  • Preventing bottlenecks or congregation areas where spectators can group and risk exposures;
  • Prohibiting food and drink within the spectator seating areas – any food and drink should be consumed in separate, well-ventilated areas away from seating areas;
  • Hand washing and/or sanitizing stations available;
  • Symptom checks, masks, limited staffing with contact tracing and limited spectator contact for volunteers working the event.

These requirements and recommendations will be in effect until further notice by the WFTDA.

Download the Audience Guidelines

Cardiac Risks of COVID-19

COVID-19’s long-term complications on the heart are largely unknown at this time. However, COVID-19, like other viral syndromes, can cause damage to the heart. This damage can occur even with those who were asymptomatic with COVID-19, and may continue to not have any physical symptoms. The heart damage can be severe, leading to sudden cardiac death during exercise. The WFTDA cannot require skaters to have the full cardiac screening necessary to find evidence of heart damage, because not every skater has the same access to such resources.

People must be their own best evaluator of their ability and should practice self-monitoring. The WFTDA instructs member leagues to follow the WFTDA Recommendations for Return to Full-Contact Skating. This graduated return to play guide will help skaters reacclimate themselves to the demands of the sport, while also allowing them an opportunity to monitor for health problems related to exercise.

However, this gradual progression back to play does NOT screen for or prevent cardiac complications of COVID. Thus, choosing to play roller derby, or to exercise at all, after recovering from COVID confers some risk. Skaters who have recovered from COVID-19 should consider this risk and speak with their primary care providers before returning to exercise.

Evidence-based recommendations for return-to-play guidelines are currently limited and clearly subject to change as further data are obtained in concert with improved COVID-19 case identification. The WFTDA COVID-19 medical team will continue to monitor these recommendations and will continue to update our guidelines to reflect any changes.

COVID-19 Variants

As reported by news media and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new COVID-19 variants have been circulating around the globe that could be more transmissible. The WFTDA would like to remind roller derby participants that a more transmissible virus makes the implementation of all of the recommendations in our return-to-roller-derby guidelines more important to the health and safety of our members.

Masks may not be enough to prevent infection alone, therefore it is important that you follow our guidelines for infection rates, distancing, disinfection and hygiene and not increase your roller derby activity (e.g., no contact to contact, no travel to travel) without first following the requirements and recommendations from the baseline conditions through each step of the ladder with the appropriate waiting periods in between.

If you see an infection in your league or increased infections in your locality, follow the guidelines to step off or down the ladder as appropriate. Caution is the key—there will be time for roller derby when it is safe enough for roller derby.


August 2020 Recommendations

Introduction

WFTDA Leadership is grateful for the outpouring of support and commitment from our athletes, officials, and other members around our WFTDA COVID-19 Guidelines to Return to Roller Derby. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique and pressing challenges for WFTDA roller derby and our 2020 season, and each sport we’ve encountered has had to make difficult decisions around safety, financial sustainability, and equity.

It is important to state that the impacts of COVID-19 to the sports industry is and will remain catastrophic until we are able to ensure the safety of our fans and participants. The WFTDA maintains a commitment to put #LivesBeforeLaces.

When we created our WFTDA COVID-19 Guidelines to Return to Roller Derby in spring of 2020, we knew that our plan would need to be a fluid, malleable system that could be strengthened and improved over time with community use and feedback.

COVID-19 Plan Updates

We are pleased to report that nearly 1,000 organizations around the world have requested our plan to review and utilize. These groups include schools, arts and cultural organizations, and other sports leadership; we welcome any and all feedback around the use of our Guidelines.

As we have seen cases of COVID-19 ebb and flow in recent weeks, WFTDA roller derby is adding additional context and clarification to help our community stay as healthy and engaged as possible.

Today, we are adding the following clarifications and updates to our plan, and will be updating the official document as soon as possible:

  • Addressing Sharp Increases in Infection Rates:
    • Stepping Off the Ladder: In the current iteration of the Guidelines, members are asked to stay at the current Tier if infections climb over a 7-day window. Due to dangerous spikes in COVID-19 infections in a variety of global locations, the WFTDA would like to add a clarification. If after 7 days the average number of new active cases continues to rise, or if at any time your percentage of positive cases goes above 5% of total daily tests, you should return to Baseline Conditions. 
  • Pre-Baseline Recommendation for League Activities: 
    • Outdoor Guidelines: Many of our members have asked about how they can execute non-contact activities in a socially-distanced, outdoor environment during the COVID-19 pandemic before your league meets Baseline Conditions. Here are some general guidelines around how to exercise in an open-air environment.
      • COVID-19 Rates: We do not recommend initiating these activities if positive infection rates are above 5% in your area. Please consult your local data to determine if you meet these qualifications.
      • Social Distance: Pack it Up! Maintain small groups of socially-distanced skaters by thinking about a roller derby lineup. Keep proximity at:
        • 6-feet apart;
        • Five humans maximum;
        • The same groups in the same areas as much as possible;
        • No contact.
        • If more than one group is out at a certain day or time, go to different locations so you aren’t tempted to group up.
      • Locations: Find locations that are not filled with people and are safe for skating–this means the surface must be consistent with the WFTDA Risk Management Guidelines.
        • Be sure to consult the WFTDA Risk Management Guidelines to ensure WFTDA Insurance is valid.
    • Indoor Activities: The WFTDA has received many inquiries about individual use of indoor practice space during the COVID-19 pandemic. Baseline Conditions help us to give members an understanding of infection rates that might be conducive to socially-distanced interaction, and we recommend not attempting group indoor activities until your location has met Baseline Conditions.
      • Metrics Check: For additional safety, also ensure that your data is consistently meeting less than 5% positive test rate in your area as you begin to step on the ladder. Any rise above this now requires stepping off the ladder.
      • Practice Space/Facilities: 
        • Participant Safety: Consider a program of Individual-skating-only in your facility. Pad out timing of attendees, and consider having same-household-only participants only.
          • Utilize a masked, distanced safety monitor who can assist by performing WFTDA safety measures and ensuring COVID guidelines during space usage.
          • If your space has good ventilation, you may consider a similar “Pack It Up” strategy as with outdoor skating and have no more than 5 participants in a consistent group wearing masks and spaced 10 feet (3.05 meters) apart. Only one skater may skate on the track at a time.
        • Additional Disinfection Measures: Along with our WFTDA Infection Control Guidance, we recommend adopting additional precautions, including:
          • Doors and windows open when and where possible. For example, if your practice space has multiple entrances, consider opening all doors leading to the outside. Discuss with your landlord any impacts on heating and cooling.
          • If you practice in a rink or other multi-use facility, ensure that you are the only group there at the designated time.
      • Additional Safety Measures: 
        • Use contact tracing sign-in sheets that are dated and timed. That way, if anyone develops symptoms of COVID-19, they can inform the league immediately, and the Risk Coordinator can let folks on the list know someone within proximity may have become infected. (Note: We ask that leagues follow government privacy guidelines where possible and maintain confidentiality when discussing positive cases.)
      • Sample Plans: Several leagues and organizations have created additional indoor training guidelines which are useful, including:

COVID-19 Ladder and WFTDA Member Requirements

Although WFTDA league activity is voluntary—as in, the WFTDA is not requiring members to return to play or practice at this time—entering league information in the Member Portal will now be required of all member leagues.

We ask that all WFTDA leagues commit to entering their league’s information in the Portal, beginning with “Baseline Conditions Not Met,” to ensure that our members are complying with our Guidelines. This was previously only required when leagues wanted to sanction games in Tier 4, but we have received complaints from members whose leagues are attempting to avoid entering information so as to conduct unsafe activity.

Failure to enter information may result in inability to receive rankings and sanctioning in 2021, loss of WFTDA insurance, and/or loss of WFTDA membership.

Audience Recommendations

The WFTDA has been cautiously optimistic about the ability for members in certain areas of the world to begin the return to roller derby game play. We appreciate the support and participation of these teams as they begin the journey back to practice, scrimmage, and eventually games.

Organizations following the WFTDA Guidelines should note that small live audiences may be possible only beginning at Tier Five on the return ladder.

Tier Five means the following is possible:

  • Contact tracing programs are available in your area–and your event is able to help track and provide detailed information to assist
  • Teams are allowed to safely travel between the regions involved

Before reaching Tier Five, there are systems leagues can work on and put in place to be ready to welcome additional community members. As we work on developing our full-fledged WFTDA Audience Guidelines for release in September 2020, we are asking members who may be on Tiers Three and Four to plan for a slow reintegration of the following groups of community members into your spaces.

As a reminder:

  • Officials: Skating Officials may return at Tier One and Non-Skating Officials at Tier Three;
  • Announcers and Volunteer Staff: These community members are possible at Tier Four and must:
    • Practice social distancing
    • Wear a mask (announcers may stand more than 6 feet (2 meters) apart and unmask when needed)
    • Practice frequent hand washing

Our upcoming Audience Guidelines can assist members who are in a position to level up to Tier Five in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, leagues who might be close should consider:

  • Tier Five Fan Recommendations:
    • Friends and Family: To protect as many community members as possible, fans involved in Tier Five events should consider only healthy friends and family members who have been briefed on the safety protocols;
    • Size: Limit community audiences to 20% capacity and space seating at least 6 feet (2 meters) from one another
    • Attendee Health and Safety: Require attendees to:
      • Practice social distancing
      • Wear a mask
      • Practice frequent hand washing (ensure hand sanitizer and clean washrooms are available)
      • Sign in with contact information to send alerts on contact tracing
    • Avoid close interaction with spectators: No post-game high fives or intermingling at halftime.
    • If local ordinances are stricter than these requirements, those would also apply.

To reiterate, we do not recommend bringing in new fans to events at Tier Five.

WFTDA COVID Guidelines Feedback

We recognize that the WFTDA COVID-19 Guidelines to Return to Roller Derby require dedication and ongoing management of infection concerns at a rigorous level. We are grateful to our members and to everyone who continues to work with us and provide feedback on our measures. WFTDA leadership is eager to gain additional feedback from the community, and from organizations who have reviewed our WFTDA COVID-19 Guidelines in order to formulate a plan of action.

We welcome additional conversations and comments in our SURVEY, which will help us design and improve our Guidelines and recommendations moving forward.

Thank Yous

Lastly, the WFTDA would like to thank our WFTDA COVID Medical Team for outstanding service to the community Bobbiejean Garcia, MPH, CIC, FAPIC; Mikaela Kosich, MPH; Nikki McCorristin, BSN, RN; JoAnna Castle, Licensed Paramedic, CCP, CP-C, IPC; Dr. Joseph Stenzel, MD; Elaine Kilmartin, MD; Molly Stenzel, Erica Vanstone. Karen Kuhn, and Katharina Bohnert. We thank our National Governing Body partners worldwide, for sharing information and resources. We are grateful to our friends at Rose City Rollers, including Rocket Mean, for additional thoughts and diligence around skating activities.


Returning to Roller Derby – June 2020

The WFTDA recognizes that the impacts of COVID-19 are vastly different in regions around the world where roller derby is played. Because local and national governments have a variety of guidelines around resocialization following the pandemic, our recommendations are based on our value of maintaining the safety and welfare of our members to the best of our ability.

Keeping our community, and communities who come in contact with WFTDA members, as safe and healthy as possible should be a primary goal for every skater, official, coach, announcer, and support staff member we come in contact with.

Therefore, we ask member organizations to consider the current count of COVID-19 cases in their regions to assess their readiness to return to roller derby activities. If your league meets the Baseline Conditions, you can consider returning to play but are not obligated to do so. However, any WFTDA league that wants to return should be utilizing our best practices.

It is important to remind members that WFTDA Rankings have been adjusted for the foreseeable future in order to freeze rankings and then to allow for the gradual return to play without rankings pressure. We wish to de-emphasize our international competitive pathways until we have adequate scientific evidence that widespread international competition is safe again. WFTDA Competitive Play and WFTDA Rankings are working together to review and adjust our structures and rankings program moving forward to account  for the health, travel and economic needs of our member leagues as the world adjusts to COVID-19.

WFTDA Statement on Audiences and Roller Derby

The WFTDA believes that re-engaging in the sport is a personal and difficult choice for leagues, especially those hardest hit by COVID-19. The guidelines in this plan are meant specifically and solely for participants of the sport, and we have paused our WFTDA competitive pathways in an effort to de-emphasize in-person fan engagement.

While we agree that some leagues may be ready to attempt a return, exposing non-participants to potential risk of infection for the benefit of our sport is not acceptable. Until there are tangible interventions, including vaccines, meaningful therapeutics, widespread testing of cases and/or antibodies, community immunity, or other factors making audiences ethically viable, we do not recommend your league welcome in-person audiences at this time.

However, we do recognize that the Return-to-Play Ladder can help us determine the readiness of WFTDA roller derby to take on this important shift to public events again, and we are working on developing broadcast solutions to help leagues stay engaged with their communities and roller derby fans worldwide.

Ladder of Reintegration

Because we cannot know the reach and duration of regional infections, we recommend a tiered system, or “ladder of reintegration”, based on the severity of COVID-19 in your area.

The ladder system allows a league to step up a level to increase activity, or down a level to decrease it, as follows:

  • This ladder provides a graduated system of guidelines and recommendations for leagues to step up from local to regional to interregional and eventually to global play. It utilizes a series of 14-day waiting periods to allow for an assessment of the impact of increased activity on league health and wellness before again increasing activity.
  • If your area continues to see new community-spread COVID-19 cases, as outlined in the Baseline Conditions for starting the process, you are not eligible to begin stepping onto the ladder system.
  • Once your local government has official guidelines on re-socialization that allow for public congregations of at least 50 and do not prevent recreating with non-contact, the WFTDA recommends waiting an additional 14 days to assess the local status of the virus before starting Tier One.
  • After starting a tier, the WFTDA recommends remaining at that level of activity for at least another 14-days to ensure that the increase in activity does not have a negative impact on your league members and that resumed activity in your region does not also have a negative impact on your region.
  • If conditions change at any time when you are on the ladder, you should step down or off the ladder and re-introduce steps as needed to protect the safety and wellbeing of skaters, officials, and supporters in your league.
  • If someone in your league, or their immediate household, becomes infected with COVID-19, your league must step off the ladder and restart each tier for the recommended 14-day intervals.
  • Leagues must go through every tier of the ladder for at least a 14-day interval and should not skip tiers or start at a tier greater than Tier 1, regardless of COVID-19 case count and trends in their respective areas.
  • This system also seeks to limit activities in such a way as to be able to assess the difference between community-spread of the virus, where league and/or local community members are seeing increased infection, and travel-spread, where there is a danger of others coming into a region and bringing infection, or residents returning to a region and bringing infection.
    • Travel is not recommended at the early stages of the ladder to ensure that it is not a factor in assessing the impact of league activity.
    • Once leagues are considered ready for inter-league mixing, travel is limited to leagues in close proximity of each other before extending to more regional, then domestic short-haul, then domestic long-haul and international travel.
  • Finally, until a commercially available vaccine is in place, the WFTDA does not recommend large events and events of any size with audiences.
    • Should a vaccine not be available for the virus, this requirement may be lifted should the testing, contact tracing and therapeutic programs be enough to ensure the safety of audiences. This decision will be made by WFTDA’s health task force, Risk Management Committee and Board of Directors.

Self-Reporting and Community Data Sharing

This system is reliant on self-reporting, both on the part of the participant and the league. WFTDA does not require reporting on testing or vaccinations, however, we believe very strongly that each individual person and league is responsible for doing what is necessary to uphold the values of our sport and to keep others safe.

Symptom-checking should be done at home prior to participating in any roller derby or league activity and league policies should allow participants to not participate should they fear infection or infecting others. Leagues should postpone or cancel events and step down in their roller derby participation should they see infection in their league or a 7-day increase in infections in their locality/region.

Finally, the WFTDA believes that, without adequate medical interventions widely available for COVID-19, the best way to prevent and manage the spread of the infection in the sport of roller derby will be creating public data to share and review. We are creating a system via our Member Portal for leagues to report their status on the Return to Play ladder. League tiers will be used to create a data visualization map that will be publicly available to assist the WFTDA and our roller derby community by tracking our collective health and return-to-play decisions. More information on this system and on the impact of COVID on the sanctioning process will be available here in the coming weeks.

Below are links to important information to consider before returning to play.

WFTDA COVID-19 Guidelines to Return to Roller Derby


PLEASE NOTE this virus is no reason or excuse to be racist or xenophobic. The WFTDA Code of Conduct is still very much in effect, and we recommend you remind league members about your own Code of Conduct as well.

For more information:

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