Special Olympics BC COVID-19 memo March 18

Special Olympics BC health information

In light of the latest guidance from provincial and national public health officials, and in order to limit any possible risk to members of our community, Special Olympics BC has made the very difficult decision to pause all training programs, all competitions, and all face-to-face meetings and activities until April 30, 2020.

We know this is a big change for our community. We know we will all need to work harder and do more to stay active and connected at this unique time. But we also know we are always inspired by Special Olympics BC athletes and our whole community. You always show the best spirit of sportsmanship and friendship. We all must continue to follow your example, now more so than ever. 

We recognize that many people rely on Special Olympics for activity, health, and friendships. We are working on tools to help support all of this continuing, just not face to face. We are lucky to live when we do – there are so many tools we can access, and this will be a time when we can use all of these to best help all of us stay connected, encouraged, and active. 

Please stay tuned to Special Olympics BC’s social media channels for upcoming resources, ideas, and for places to talk. Please continue to use the at-home training and health resources on the Special Olympics BC website, including the Move-It March challenge and more to come!

We recognize that many volunteers have other priorities right now, and we have no expectations of you – we only want you to feel supported, and know that our thoughts and appreciation are always with you. But for those coaches and those Locals who want to continue the operations they still can address remotely, Special Olympics BC has tools to assist Local Committees, and we are looking at ways to offer coach education opportunities remotely. Please contact your local Community Development staff member for more information, and coaches please feel free to visit the SOBC website Resources section to find coaching tools and videos to support your practice.

Following public health recommendations, all Special Olympics BC staff are currently working remotely. We all feel deeply committed to providing top-quality support and resources to all members of our community throughout this unique time. Please absolutely do not hesitate to contact staff with any questions whatsoever, and/or any ideas for how we can best support the SOBC community that inspires us all the time.

As before, Special Olympics BC will continue to follow the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation daily, and will communicate further with members. 

We will assess, address, and communicate what the postponement of the Regional Qualifiers in March and April means for qualifying for the 2021 SOBC Summer Games. Please stay tuned for further information. We commend and thank all the athletes who have been training hard for these competitions, and all the volunteers and families who have been working so hard to plan them. 

In addition to changes to programs during this time, there are many implications for Special Olympics BC’s fundraising events and valued partners. We are closely monitoring the situation and communicating with sponsors and partners. 

Thank you all so much for your patience at this time. The health and safety of all Special Olympics BC athletes, volunteers, and supporters remain our top priorities. 

We will all get through this together – that is, together in spirit while physically apart and frequently washing our hands! As Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, "This is our time to be calm, be kind, and be safe."

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact Lois McNary, SOBC Vice President, Sport, at lmcnary@specialolympics.bc.ca or 604-737-3117 office / 604-616-1341 cell.

Further background and resources

The BC Centre for Disease Control says the most important things you can do to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses are to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow when you sneeze or cough.
  • Avoid others who are unwell, and if you are sick yourself, stay away from others. Contact your health-care provider ahead of time so you can be safely assessed.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Do not share food, drinks, utensils, etc. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada shares the following tips to stay healthy and limit spread:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Sneeze or cough into your arm or sleeve.
  • Consider a wave or elbow bump in place of a handshake, a hug, or kiss. 
  • Reduce your exposure to crowded places by shopping or using transit during non-peak hours.
  • Encourage those you know are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms.
  • If you become ill, stay home until you are no longer showing symptoms. Contact your health-care professional or local public health authority, and tell them your symptoms. They will give you advice about what to do next.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says there is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for the following Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over;
  • with compromised immune systems;
  • with underlying medical conditions.

If you are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications, please follow general preventative strategies against infection. If you become ill, seek medical help early. Read the BC CDC handout for patients with chronic health conditions.

Special Olympics BC recommends using B.C. and Canadian health authorities for information on COVID-19, including:

Special Olympics International COVID-19 frequently asked questions

Hand washing tips from Special Olympics Health Messenger Nyasha Derere

Special Olympics COVID-19 tips