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   : VSSAA Stage 2 Information

The Vancouver Secondary Schools Athletic Association (VSSAA) is the local sport organizing body responsible for governing all secondary school extra-curricular leagues and activities for the 18 VSB secondary schools.  Its responsibilities include competition scheduling, championship coordination, policy and rules governance for all activities conducted at the local secondary school level.  It also provides support and leadership for zone qualifications for provincial championships governed by BC School Sports.

The VSSAA has an elected Executive Board comprised of teachers employed by the VSB.  The Board of Governors for the organization are the principals of the 18 member schools.  The VSSAA coordinates all extra-curricular athletic activities on behalf of the Vancouver School Board and therefore is subject to policies and rules set forth by VSB’s senior management.

BC School Sports (BCSS) is the provincial body which is responsible for governance of secondary school sport in British Columbia.  Our 18 VSB secondary schools are members of BCSS and must adhere to all BCSS policies and guidelines.  On March 16, 2020 BCSS suspended all athletic activities for its member schools due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.  On September 10, 2020 in accordance with the Ministry of Education Restart Education Plan, BCSS lifted the ban on extra-curricular activities for member schools. BCSS moved from stage 1 (no sports) to stage 2 (limited training and competition at schools but no inter-school competitions would be permitted).  While member schools may not proceed with activities that have not been approved by BC School Sports, the decision to offer/approve activities (move from stage 1 to stage 2) remained at the discretion of the School District.

The senior management of the Vancouver School District has been carefully reviewing all safety and risk protocols in respect to moving to stage 2 for school sport.  This stage allows for reduced physical contact training and friendly competition within the educational/learning cohorts. This means that social distancing should still be maintained, and masks used for all aspects of preparing for the sporting activity. It is only during the actual activity, within the natural parameters of the sport would there be a reduction in physical distancing, however it is noted that contact should be reduced. Coaches are required to adapt to the training environment to reduce physical contact in this stage.

Effective October 13, 2020 VSB’s senior management has approved to allow its schools to move to stage 2 for extra-curricular athletics if its key principles are met.



  • All schools are to adhere to the standards, guidelines and protocols from the Provincial Health Officer, BC Communicable Disease Control, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Ministry of Education, Vancouver School Board and BC School Sports.
  • The health and safety guidelines outlined in this document have been developed to complement the guidance set forth by the governing bodies listed above.
  • All schools are required to develop a Return to Play Plan for each sport before the commencement of any activities. 
  • Activities should aim to increase physical fitness; encourage a higher level of skill development; be enjoyable and foster positive social development and interaction.
  • Effective and ongoing communication with school leaders, parents, caregivers, and students is an essential aspect of successfully implementing these guidelines.


Stage 2 Specifics

Group Size in Stage 2: A maximum of 50 persons in any one training area. Approved coaches and staff are permitted in the training zone, but unless they are a teacher in the same educational cohort, are required to maintain a 2m distance. More than 1 cohort may practice on the same training area if the total number of participants does not exceed 50. If a school is going to use one field of play for multiple cohorts, social distancing must be strictly maintained between students in different educational cohorts. Sharing of equipment between the educational cohorts is permitted if social distancing is maintained between students in different cohorts.


Each school will need to do a facility assessment to determine the maximum number of participants permissible in each field of play or facility.  Your small gym will have a different capacity than your large gym which will be different than your soccer pitch.


Facility Logistics: Facilities used for school sport should ensure that in addition to the proper signage to control the flow of traffic, the storage of personal belongings is provided for in a socially distant manner.


Social Distancing: Social distancing and reduced contact are encouraged wherever possible. Between students of different educational cohorts, it is mandatory. Coaches should be staying socially distant from athletes if they are involved in coaching multiple cohorts.


Equipment: While we encourage schools to reduce the amount of shared equipment where feasible, the sharing of equipment is permitted within and across educational cohorts. For example, in volleyball, a setter from cohort A can set a ball to a hitter in cohort B if they maintain the appropriate social distance while doing so. All equipment is subject to the commonly touched surfaces protocol that requires disinfecting/cleaning a minimum of twice per day. We recommend that when equipment is shared, there is increased attention to hand hygiene.


Health and Safety Protocols: Coaches and athletic directors must be cognizant of high touch-point surfaces such as pylons or cones. This must be addressed in the school safety plan and approved by the school before the commencement of activities. Any coaches who do not teach within the same educational cohort as the students or coach multiple cohorts of students must wear a mask while coaching and must maintain a 2m distance.


Minimizing Contact: While students in the same cohort can participate in a sport naturally without having to maintain strict social distancing, the ministry has stated that school sport must still maintain reduced contact. Sports where there is continuous or sustained close contact (as defined in the glossary) are required to adapt sessions to reduce the sustained contact.


Spectators: No spectators are permitted at training or practice activities. Coaches and athletic directors should communicate drop off and pick up procedures to all participants’ parents/guardians.


Virtual Competition: Although in-person competition between cohorts or schools is prohibited at this time, Virtual Competition is permitted during this stage as long as student athletes from different cohorts are not physically on the same field of play at the same time.  For example, a virtual cross-country competition where all student-athletes run a designated course, on their own or with athletes from their educational cohort and submit their time.  At no time will athletes from different schools compete together in the same space at the same time.


Stage 2 Questions & Answers

Q: Why is school sport only moving to stage 2 whereas community sport is in phase 3 and allows inter club competition?

A: We understand the frustration felt by many that club/community sport is progressing to competition and we in school sport are lagging. School sport falls under the Ministry of Education Restart School Plan whereas community sport is governed by viaSport.  BCSS continues to work with the Ministry of Education in hopes of moving to the approved framework for club/community sport.


Q: The student-athletes on my team are split across multiple cohorts, can we practice together?

A: Yes, student athletes from different educational cohorts can train together but must always maintain physical distancing.  They may practice using the same shared equipment.


Q: We have limited equipment; can different cohorts use the same equipment?

A: Sporting Equipment can be shared across cohorts. Said differently, if you are training two (or more) educational cohorts simultaneously, social distance must still be maintained between the cohorts even with using the same equipment.  Equipment must be sanitized before and after each practice session.  If during the practice session any equipment is compromised, it must be cleaned, and all participants should wash their hands (or use hand sanitizer)


Q: Can the same coach be present in multiple cohorts?

A: Yes, a teacher-coach from a different educational cohort, can be present in multiple cohorts provided they maintain social distance from the student-athletes while taking all measures to ensure the safety of all student-athletes, such as wearing a mask at all times.


Q: Can a community coach or non VSB staff person be involved with practice sessions?

A: No, at the present time, the VSB does not permit volunteers to be in our school buildings for any programs or activities.  This also extends to outdoor facilities.


Q: Can educators on practicum at your school coach?

A: Yes, student teachers can assist with practice sessions at your school.


Q: Can other non- teaching staff at your school coach?

A: Yes, if they are part of your school community (SLO, SSW, CST, etc) they can coach.


Q: Can VSB staff person who is not normally employed at your school coach a team at your school (ie teacher who teaches at an elementary school elsewhere in the district)

A: Yes, any VSB staff can coach at your school as long they have reviewed your school Covid Safety protocols, the BCSS Return to School Sport Plan (version 2), the VSB Return to Sport plan for the specific sport the coach will be involved with.  The coach must maintain social distance from the student-athletes while taking all measures to ensure the safety of all student-athletes, such as wearing a mask at all times.


Q: Can a retired teacher coach?

A: Currently, retired teachers unless they are on the VSB TTOC list are not eligible to coach any teams at your school.




Q: Can students coach teams at our school?

A: Yes, students can fill the coaching role for teams or cohorts at your school, but they must:

·Always have a teacher sponsor in the gym or on the field

·Always wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing protocols

·Be counted in the maximum number of participants for the activity/facility as set out in the school approved return to play plan.


Q: Can the coach run drills with the equipment?

A: A coach may contact the equipment to facilitate a drill or element of practice, provided again that social distance is maintained.


Q: If one of our student-athletes tests positive for COVID-19 what do we do?

A: Follow your school outbreak protocol by notifying your school principal or vic-principal. Once the outbreak protocol has been initiated, the athletic director should also contact BC School Sports to report the positive case. They only require the date of the positive test, student-athlete gender and sport.


Q: Can cohorts compete against each other if they are from the same school?

A: Cohorts are not permitted to compete against one another unless in a sport that allows for social distancing to be maintained. Sports such as badminton, table tennis, pickleball, tennis safely allow for competition at a social distance.


Q: Can ‘contact’ sports practice?

A: It is important to note for the sake of coronavirus transmission, contact is not viewed in the sense of a rough physical sporting play such as in football or rugby. Instead, contact is the amount of time spent close to another person. For example, Ultimate is considered a Group C sport (frequent or sustained contact) despite there being minimal physical contact during gameplay.


Sports with frequent or sustained contact may practice but are required to modify their practices to ensure a meaningful reduction in contact time. This will look different for each sport. For example, in Ultimate, if during practicing a team is performing game-like simulations, a rule adaptation may be required where the defender must remain two paces from the student-athlete with the disc.  In football, this will mean no line play where the D-line and O-line are face to face. In rugby, this would eliminate scrums.


Coaches must adapt their practice plans to reduce sustained or frequent contact between student-athletes.


Q: What sports fall under the various groupings for close contact?

·Group A Activities - Individual sports that can maintain physical distancing: Aquatics, Badminton, Golf, Gymnastics, Mtn. Biking, Skiing, Snowboard, Track & Field, Tennis

·Group B Activities - Sports that have minimal contact: Curling, Volleyball

·Group C Activities - Sports with frequent or sustained contact: Basketball, Field Hockey, Football, Soccer, Ultimate, Rugby

·Group D Activities - Combat Sports: Wrestling


It is important to note that these sports are categorized for play in their natural form, or with some minimal adaptations.


Q: A coach from another school in our district would like to have a friendly exhibition game while maintaining social distance, can my team participate?

A: During stage 2 there is no inter-school competition permitted; this includes scrimmages, exhibition games, or friendly competition. Even with social distancing, no competition is allowed between cohorts.


Q: Can our school practice out-of-season sports (ie. Winter or Spring Sports)?

A: The VSSAA does not limit out-of-season practices.  When possible, offer activities that align with the BCSS seasons of play.  However, schools should not be limited to these choices if it means that fewer student athletes will be engaged in sport.  The sport offerings will differ from school - this is ultimately at the discretion of the school administration and the athletic director.


Q: Does the coach need to take attendance at practice sessions?

A: Yes, coaches must maintain an accurate attendance sheet for all practices and if needed later provide those documents to the school administration.  Coaches must also ask each student athlete the pre-screening questions prior to allowing the student to participate in the practice.


Q: Does the coach need to turn in the attendance sheets?

A: No, you do not need to turn in your attendance sheets, but you must keep them and if needed at a later date provide the sheets to your school office.


Q: Are students that have not filled in the requisite paperwork allowed to ‘drop in’ for practice sessions?

A: No, only students that have filled in and submitted the required permission forms and have been added to your attendance sheet can participate in your sessions.


Q: There are some new students that want to join our practice sessions are they allowed?

A: Yes, but not until approved by the athletic director.  The athletic director will review the facility assessment to see if additional students can be safely added to the session and stay within the maximum participant limits.  If this assessment is positive, then the student will need to fill in and submit the required permission forms.  Once that is completed, the student (s) will be added to your revised attendance sheet and then and only after that process have been completed can new students join practice sessions.


Q: Are students permitted to travel on public transportation to get to an offsite team practice or virtual competition?

A: No, the VSB guidelines currently do not allow students to take public transportation for field studies and this ban would extend to extra-curricular athletics.

• Cross Country
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• N/A
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