COVID-19/Return to Play Info


I would like to welcome you to SOMO's Return to Play (R2P) page on our website. Here you will find guidelines, resources, and tools to assist you in mitigating the risk of COVID-19.

Information on COVID-19 is changing daily. Transmission rates vary across Missouri by city and county. Special Olympics Missouri is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers, coaches, families, officials, staff, and all who contribute to the success of our athletes in training, competition, and events.

The information in the R2P guidelines document and information found on this website are by no means a prescriptive, complete or exhaustive list of Return to Play considerations. We recognize we will learn, adapt, and adjust as we make our way through this pandemic.

We will make updates to R2P protocols on this page, so please come back often for updates. We will also communicate directly with the coaches with any updates via our coaches' e-communications. Let me know if you aren't on the coaches eNews list.

Thank you for being a part of the SOMO family and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Stay safe & healthy,

Trish Lutz
Vice President-Programs

These guidelines were approved by the Special Olympics Missouri Board of Directors on July 6, 2020. You can download the SOMO Return to Play Guidelines here. While the SOMO COVID Training & Education video outlines these guidelines, you must also read this document as well.

Most recent updates

UPDATE 4.6.2021

Click the picture (or click here) to watch a video message from SOI's Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne

Special Olympics encourages everyone who has access to the COVID-19 vaccine, to get vaccinated. If you have questions about the vaccine, you should contact your health care professional.

We know from recent research and studies that people with ID are dying from COVID-19 at much higher rates than people without ID. Special Olympics has created education materials to help athletes understand information about the COVID-19 vaccines and continue to practice prevention.

The page includes two toolkits of information about the COVID-19 vaccine: an Education Toolkit that includes materials for athletes, caregivers and families to learn more about the vaccine, as well as an Advocacy Toolkit that includes materials for Programs to advocate for people with intellectual disabilities to have priority access to the vaccine.

UPDATE 3.23.2021

It is so exciting that track practices are beginning across the state and Area Spring Games are on the calendar and being planned. Some may be structured differently and we may find that our numbers are not as big as before COVID, but WE ARE BACK!!! With that comes making sure we are still following COVID protocols. We are officially in PHASE 3 of the SOMO Return 2 Play guidelines. What does this mean?

1. We do not have any restrictions on the size of the event, UNLESS, there are restrictions in the community you are hosting the events and/or at the facility the event is being held.
2. Spectators are welcome to attend, must social distance in the stands and wear masks if inside. If the event is outside, spectators are not required to wear masks, as long as they can social distance from those not in their group.
3. NO pre or on-site screening is required (so no temps or contact tracing is necessary).
4. All athletes and coaches must have a signed SOMO COVID Acknowledgement of Risk form prior to participation (practice and competition).
5. Coaches must complete the SOMO COVID Return 2 Play training.
6. Day-of volunteers will be asked to sign a mass waiver acknowledging the risk of COVID through their participation.
7. The following is the mitigation plan SOMO will follow and share in all communications:

  • High-risk conditions and the risks of participation
  • If you are sick, stay home!
  • Social distancing will still be in place and signage will be placed around the venue to remind people.
  • If the event is outside, masks are only required when social distancing is NOT possible.
  • If the event is inside (swimming, volleyball, powerlifting) it is highly recommended that masks are worn if not participating in physical activity.
  • Masks are not required when participating in physical activity.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the venue.
  • Equipment will be sprayed or wiped down with disinfectant after each use.
  • Everyone should bring their own bottled water and/or water bottles.

As more and more people choose to get the vaccine, there are a lot of communities and schools who are lifting their mask mandates around the state. As an organization, who offers programs to individuals with intellectual disabilities, we need to make sure we are doing everything possible to mitigate risk. With that said, we will do our due diligence by communicating our mitigation plan (outlined above) and encouraging mask wearing while inside and when you cannot social distance. The beauty of going back to in person events now, is the majority of our events are outside, in large spaces where you can maintain social distance.

UPDATE 1.12.2021

  • SOMO is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of all participants. As we move towards 2021 competitions, SOMO is looking at a phased approach at returning to play.

    In developing our 2021 competition calendar, the staff took into consideration that contact sports, such as basketball and indoor sports such as bowling, would be difficult to deliver with COVID guidelines. For this reason, we moved those sports to later in the year and have no competitions during the first quarter of 2021.

    For those teams that are able to get back to training, we are asking you to follow the Phase 2 guidelines utilizing these reminders:
    • All athletes, coaches, volunteers, (anyone at practice) must have a COVID release form ( signed and submitted to their area office.
    • All coaches must have completed the SOMO COVID coach training (
    • Before starting practice, we sure to communicate with your local health department to understand all COVID guidelines for your county/community.
    • 50 or less people can be present at the practice based on the facility size
    • Wear masks when not exercising
    • Maintain 6 foot physical distance
    • Have hand sanitizing stations available for frequent sanitation
    • Sanitize equipment
    • Follow the guidelines of the facility. This means if their restrictions are stricter than 50 people, then follow those guidelines.
    • If teams choose to practice basketball, they can do individual skills and drills, but no scrimmaging
    • Please contact your area program staff for sport specific guidelines.

    Monitoring & Communication
    *Please note with information about COVID changing daily, please be mindful to watch your email and the website at for updates.
    At any point, based on data provided at SOMO could move to another phase outlined in the Return to Play guidelines that can be found at

    The SOMO staff and games management teams are moving forward in their planning for Area Spring Games and State Summer Games in Phase 3 which will be held beginning in April. Again, we cannot reiterate enough that everything is subject to change depending on the status of COVID.

    We highly recommend that anyone who is considered high risk to consider participating in our #SOMOatHome programming ( In addition, we will be offering virtual opportunities for all state games. Please watch the SOMO website, social media and your email as those plans unfold.

    We want nothing more than to get back to fully delivering the mission to our athletes, however, we will only do so if we are able to fully follow guidelines that will provide a safe environment for everyone.

UPDATE 11.12.2020

  • All in-person competitions are now suspended until 2021. We feel it is in the best interest of all those involved in these remaining events, that we take this action to suspend all in-person competitions until 2021. We also would recommend that teams STRONGLY consider moving to a plan that involves at-home training and exercise programs. There are a lot of recordings of past #SOMOatHome sessions and some Virtual Sports Camp lessons that you and your athletes could recreate at home. Please continue to stay safe, and practice social distancing and wear your mask as we move into the holiday season. 

UPDATE 9.2.2020

  • All areas are now in Phase 2.  Specific details for how to set up practice can be found on pages 6-8 in the SOMO Return to Play Guidelines document.
Return to Play Phases
  • Phase 0: Stay-at-home order in place for all individuals

    • No events or activities of any sort to be held in-person
    • Individual sports training sessions in own home using own equipment
    • Any coaching must occur virtually
    • Fitness and health programming offered virtually or at home
    • Meetings, conferences, or trainings to be held virtually
  • Phase 1: Stay-at-home order is lifted, restriction on size of gatherings (fewer than 10 people)

    • High-risk individuals should continue to remain at home
    • Practices, health and fitness, leadership, fundraising, and local events (with fewer than 10 people) MAY resume if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols. No direct or indirect contact (ie: through a ball in the hand) should take place.
    • Virtual programming should be made available for those not able to attend in person.
    • Select disciplines of Healthy Athletes occur for disciplines where risk mitigation and infection control precautions can be put in place.
    • School-based activities led by schools should comply with guidance from schools/districts.
  • Phase 2: Size restriction on gatherings increased to fewer than 50 people

    • High-risk individuals should continue to remain at home
    • Practices, health and fitness, leadership, fundraising, and local events (with fewer than 50 people) MAY resume if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols. Indirect contact (ie: through a ball in the hand) MAY resume. No direct contact should occur in sports.
    • Virtual programming should be made available for those not able to attend in person.
    • Healthy Athletes may occur for disciplines where risk mitigation and infection control precautions can be put in place.
    • School-based activities led by schools should comply with guidance from schools/districts.
  • Phase 3: No restrictions on size of gatherings and public facilities are open

    • High-risk individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed.
    • Large competition and games with people traveling from multiple geographic areas who are in the same phase) may potentially occur if permitted by the World Health Organization, county, and local standards.
    • Virtual programming should be made available for those not able to attend in person.
    • Healthy Athletes may resume activities, with appropriate infection control precautions in place.
    • School-based activities led by schools should comply with guidance from schools/districts.
Risk Awareness Acknowledgement

Prior to returning to any in-person Special Olympics Missouri activity, all participants are to complete an online or hard copy Participant Risk Acknowledgement Form which provides information and guidance on assessing risk and acknowledges that participation could increase risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. To better understand who is at a higher-risk for COVID-19 based on CDC guidelines, please check out this fact sheet.

Not ready to return to play yet? We've got you covered!
Coaches' Training & Resources

This section is designed to provide education and training specific to coaches.  However, everyone is welcome to participate and view these trainings, resources, and tools.

Required Coaches' Training

SOMO practices can resume on July 16, ONLY after coaches have completed the following trainings:

  • COVID-19 Training via the Special Olympics North America learning portal. This document will give you instructions for how to register and then submit your training to Trish Lutz at
  • SOMO COVID Training & Education - this training video will walk you through the SOMO Return To Play Guidelines.  Please allow yourself at least an hour to watch the video. At the end of the video, please take the short quiz.  Your results will automatically be sent to Trish Lutz.

Sports Training Considerations

Special Olympics North America has developed some tools for a few of the sports to help coaches plan their practices/training.  These are suggestions of the different ways to plan practices based on the different phases.

Signage for Practice

These downloadable documents can be printed and displayed at your practice venues.

Screening Protocols & Tools

  • In Phase 1 & 2, screening must take place at SOMO practices, competition, and other activities of ALL participants (this includes athletes, coaches, chaperones, volunteers, staff, families/caregivers). You can find the Screening Protocol here. The contact tracing form must be used to track all participants present and record the results of the screening. 
  • In Phases 1, 2 & 3, ALL participants (as outlined above) must be signed in using the contact tracing form. You can download a PDF version here or a Microsoft Word version here.
  • This site will give you a directory of every Local Public Health Agency (LPHA) so you can make contact with them about any county or city guidelines that are in place. You will also want to let them know you are returning to practice and share the SOMO Return to Play Guidelines or this website with them.
  • Here is a short video produced by Special Olympics, Inc. that will provide information on travel to activities & screening protocols.
  • This short video, produced by Special Olympics, Inc. will walk you through the recommended way to prepare any venue for practice, competition or SOMO activity while in Phase 1 & 2.


Linked below are sites that will provide information about COVID, specific to Missouri counties, travel recommendations outside your home community. These resources are a few of the ways we are monitoring COVID and making determinations of phases in counties, how many people to have at a competition, if we can have a competition, etc. All decisions will be based on information available at the time.
  • This site is the Missouri COVID dashboard and gives up-to-date information on stats related to COVID in Missouri. You can see the breakdown by county, etc.
  • This site gives recommendations for those traveling outside your home community.
  • This site provides a directory for every Local Public Health Agency (LPHA).
  • This site will show what counties have different guidelines than what the state has in place at any given time.
  • This is the State of Missouri Show Me Strong Recovery Plan.
SOMO's COVID Contact
  • Any questions regarding practice, competition or other SOMO activities should be directed to Trish Lutz at or 573-469-7836.
  • If anyone learns of testing positive for COVID-19 and has been at any SOMO practice, competition or activity, they must contact Trish Lutz at or 573-469-7836.  Your identity will remain confidential but we are required to report to the local health department and do contact tracing for the safety of others.