"As much as it is disliked, the requirement of masks is the only way we are going to be able to continue to play club volleyball until this spike or spread of COVID-19 in Arizona lessens."
The Arizona Region of USA Volleyball is making every effort to allow teams to play... and to do so safely.
We understand there are varying beliefs about the use of masks to stop the spread. However, until the CDC and the health departments say differently, we need to enforce a mask policy. We are being watched. Those who refuse or mock the policy will find us unable to continue to play because of their actions.
Following the Open Division seeding tournament, we found we had a lot of people who did not want to comply with the new mask policy. As much as it is disliked, it is the only way we are going to be able to continue to play club volleyball until this spike or spread of COVID-19 lessens.
This is not a joke; Mesh and see-through masks are not proper masks to be worn. They do not protect the health of those around them.
The Arizona Region of USA Volleyball Board of Directors revised the mask policy as such:
A mask must be worn so that it covers the nose and mouth. Following a strenuous or lengthy rally a brief recovery period may take place. The player may pull out the bottom of the mask to take in additional air. Complete removal, tucking the mask under the nose or chin at any time is a violation. Once the players are recovered and all masks are properly worn, the referee may beckon for serve. Failure to comply by the beckon of the serve, may result in a team delay. Sufficient recovery time is at the discretion of the 1st Referee. However, any effort or tactic to further postpone resumption of play constitutes a team delay.
During time-outs and in the huddle, prior to and following the match, the player may take in additional air by pulling out the bottom part of the mask only. Complete removal or tucking the mask under the nose or chin is a violation. The coach's mask shall remain in place at all times.
Any violations of the mask policy during the match will be recorded on the score sheet and called to the attention of the site director when it is turned in.
Any Player or Coach that is out of compliance with the AZ Region mask policy:
a. The individual will be given one warning (Yellow Card) by the R1
b. If the individual is found to be out of compliance a 2nd time, the individual will be expelled from the match.
c. If the individual is found to be out of compliance in a subsequent match, the individual will be disqualified for the rest of the day.
Any spectator who is out of compliance with the AZ Region Mask Policy:
a. The spectator will be given one warning during the entire day
b. If the spectator is found to be out of compliance a 2nd time, the spectator will be asked to leave the facility by the Site Director. The spectator will not be allowed back in the facility during the rest of the event.
The Arizona Region of USA Volleyball works with our participating facilities to allow 3 spectators per team into each facility.
As the coronavirus numbers rise in Arizona, the facilities may decide they need to change this allowance.
In order for us to keep teams playing, we have to be mindful of what each facility needs to remain open.
We have been asked the following questions about spectators and team camps.
We would like the size of the team camps to be reduced as social distancing is difficult in small areas. Teams should not share food. Each person should bring their own food for their own consumption during the time they are there.
Designated spectators are the only non-required personnel of a team who are allowed inside the facility - even to use the restroom. Unfortunately, parents use this excuse to get in and then don't come out. We can't allow this.
During the boys season, we had some parents use unauthorized wristbands to enter the facility. Please make sure your teams are aware of their designated spectators and allow only those in the building. If we have to impose sanctions, we will to protect the occupancy rate and the safety of the buildings.
We are all in this together and we have to work together to make this year the best we can under the circumstances. No one wants this; We want to go back to watching our kids play and having fun. The athletes need this mentally. Please work together to help the sites, the site directors and the teams run tournaments smoothly.
January 2021 ushers in an addition to our COVID-19 Mitigation protocol. The AZ Region is now asking everyone present at region games - including players in the game - to wear a mask.
The primary reason for the additional mask rule is twofold.
Since Thanksgiving, Arizona has been seeing a spike in coronavirus cases which is currently higher than almost any other place in the U.S. A new and incredibly easily transmitted variant of COVID-19 is now in the states, as well.
To ignore either or both of those pieces of information would mean our Board of Directors are not serious with our ongoing message of keeping the health and safety of our members as a top priority.
We've put together an abbreviated list of the reasons why the AZ Region has changed its policy to now require all players to wear masks - even during play.
1. The Region is doing its best to follow the advice of the CDC, the State of Arizona Guidelines and of medical specialists (epidemiologists). Protocols must change with changing conditions and, ultimately, those conditions are temporary.
2. The most recent news indicates there is a record number of positive cases in Arizona and hospitals are almost at capacity.
3. There is a new and even more transmissible form the virus coming into play.
4. The Region is doing its best to be consistent across all of the facilities that we use so players, parents and coaches don’t have to be concerned about the variations depending on where they are scheduled to play.
5. By implementing these protocols, the Region is at least providing our members with an opportunity to play. That is not true in other Regions like Puget Sound, Great Lakes and others where they aren’t allowed to play at all.
6. It’s not just about the players. There are negative externalities to consider. By making everyone wear a mask, the Region is doing its best to provide volleyball and reduce the chances of players or coaches transmitting the virus to family members when they return home. Signing a waiver doesn’t do anything for unsuspecting third parties.
7. The Region has consistently told our members that their safety is priority #1 and important considerations are:
a. no one knows the long term effects on those who contract the virus (and particularly young people)
b. the Region has no way of knowing who players come in contact with prior to or after an event
c. the Region doesn’t want to be put in a position where we have to explain to parents why we exposed their daughters to the virus when:
i. we repeatedly said the safety of our members is our overriding concern
ii. the majority of our membership realizes and approves of our efforts or, at the very least, is not resisting our efforts knowing they are temporary.
You may be wondering why cities would be weighing in on how we’re doing.
Arizona’s city and state governments are in control of occupancy levels at local gyms and facilities. Not the region.
In fact, not a single facility has been cleared for 100% occupancy to date.
We're actually very grateful to be able to allow 3 spectators per team as we were originally told we would not be able to allow ANY spectators.
The Arizona Region of USA Volleyball has a spectator policy stating, “A maximum of 3 (three) spectators per team will be allowed per tournament’” if allowed and depending on the facility’s occupancy guidelines.
The policy was approved in September 2020 at the beginning of the Junior Boys’ tournaments and has been working. The cities of Tempe and Chandler tell us we’re doing a “good job” with managing COVID protocols at the boys’ tourneys and we’ll be evaluating this policy as often as possible and throughout the girls’ club season.
The facilities want to stay in business. And we want to help them stay in business so the kids can continue to play volleyball.
In addition to spectator guidelines, the Arizona Region has COVID waivers, check-in procedures, temperature checks, etc. You can find more information here.
We completely understand why parents don’t like these restrictions. We understand this is a hurdle for families traveling from far away. We understand the additional frustration that comes along with losing our freedoms during this pandemic.
The policies are not meant to keep parents away. In fact, it's just the opposite. We are wanting for parents to help us keep the kids active. Parents and guardians are the ones doing the leg work of making sure their kids are coming to practices and games healthy and ready to play without further spreading the virus.
We know how difficult it was for families to find out we had to cancel tournaments and end the last season early. We don't want to make these difficult decisions again.
It is our responsibility at the region to keep down the spread of the virus. Period. The consequences of not abiding by government regulations mean the loss of club volleyball for all kids. So, we’re working diligently behind the scenes to make sure the kids can play. We’ll have to keep these policies in place until we’re told otherwise.
One final clarification. Club volleyball and high school volleyball have two completely different set of circumstances regarding spectator policies.
A high school volleyball match has one court and two teams competing in a gym. Bleachers are available with lots of room for spectators to socially distance themselves. A club volleyball tournament, on the other hand, has anywhere from two to six courts in one gym. Bleachers typically are not available and courts are in close proximity to each other. These two scenarios are not comparable.
Also note, school districts work and operate sports in conjunction with their local health districts and the AIA to host high school volleyball matches.
We at the Arizona Region, which oversees club volleyball, must work directly with gym facility owners and schools. The facility owners are working with the local and state governments to maintain their ability to remain open.
We are incredibly appreciative of the parents, clubs, coaches, and officials who follow the guidelines. Our only goal throughout all of this is to keep our teams healthy so they can continue to play.
Feel free to contact us at the Arizona Region anytime. We're always looking for volunteers and great ideas!