New Recommendations – August 2020


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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