TO: ALL JYBSA FAMILIES AND TEAMS REGISTERED FOR OUR 2020 TOURNAMENTS
FROM: DUFFY DILLON ON BEHALF OF THE JYBSA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
RE: COVID 19 UPDATE, MAY 21, 2020
Good afternoon JYBSA Families,
On behalf of the JYBSA Board of Directors, I would like to give everyone an update on where things stand regarding our 2020 season.
COVID-19 SURVEY RESULTS. I will begin by thanking everyone who has taken the time to respond to our COVID-19 survey. We have received over 440 responses to date, which confirms how much everybody shares the same desire of trying to get back to play. As you might expect, the opinions we’ve received cover the entire spectrum. Because the input is valuable to us, if you have not responded so far, we would invite you to give us your feedback by completing the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K8FGCF7. (FYI, the survey is taking people an average of about 6 minutes to complete).
OUR CURRENT ASSESSMENT IS THAT WE ARE STILL DELAYED FOR THE TIME BEING. The Board met on May 18 to assess our ability to play ball. At the end of the meeting we decided we still do not have enough information to make any final decisions, so we now actively gathering information that will help us continue to evaluate several factors. In the interest of staying transparent and keeping everyone informed, a partial list of the most important factors we are evaluating is as follows.
FACTOR 1: ROCK COUNTY REOPENING PLAN. As of today, May 21, we are now in “Phase One” of the Rock County reopening plan (available online at https://www.co.rock.wi.us/images/web_documents/departments/health/rock_county_reopening_phased_plan.pdf). Phase One continues for at least two weeks and could be extended even longer if we have a “second wave” of increased COVID infections. Under Phase One, social distancing must continue, gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, and team sports are prohibited. So long as we remain in Phase One here in Rock County, normal operations at our ballpark will continue to be impossible. If we successfully reach Phase Two, gatherings of 50 people or less will be permitted outdoors, and team sports will be permitted “with limits to be determined.” We are working with the County to try to identify what those limits may be as quickly as possible. And, if we successfully reach Phase Three, social distancing will still be recommended, and the team sports limits are still TBD. With so much uncertainty, it is difficult to know if or when we may be able to resume activities.
FACTOR 2: CITY OF JANESVILLE INPUT. As of today, May 21, the City parks are open, but team sports are not permitted under the County order. We are working with the City along with the County to try to identify what the City will permit as soon as we can.
FACTOR 3: AVAILABILITY OF SCHOOL DISTRICT PRACTICE FACILITIES. As of today, May 21, all School District of Janesville fields are closed and will remain closed to all uses through at least June 30, 2020. Because our normal team activities rely upon the use of practice fields at schools across the City, the ongoing closure of those practice facilities is a factor in what we are able to do.
FACTOR 4: CDC GUIDANCE. As of today, May 21, the CDC’s guidance for youth sports organizations places great emphasis on continuing to engage in social distancing. See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/youth-sports.html. This guidance was only released on May 20, after our meeting, and is now under study.
FACTOR 5: LOCAL GUIDANCE. As of today, May 21, local health officials are indicating to us that they hope the reopening plan goes well, but there is also a chance it could lead to a second wave of increasing infections within 2-3 weeks. Based on their input, our Board’s sentiment is that we ought to proceed with caution and use the next two weeks to plan how we would return and monitor the success of the reopening at the same time.
FACTOR 6: BABE RUTH GUIDANCE. We are a Babe Ruth League / Cal Ripken affiliated program for baseball. On May 14, 2020, the Babe Ruth League canceled all state and national tournaments for 2020. As a member organization, we will take further cues from Babe Ruth League / Cal Ripken to the extent we receive them.
FACTOR 7: WHAT ARE OTHER PROGRAMS ARE DOING NATIONWIDE, AND WITH WHAT RESULTS? Now that some areas of the country are returning to play in various ways, our board members are constantly monitoring all “return to play” developments nationwide and assessing whether and to what extent those developments could work here. We have assessed at least a dozen different plans and it seems like new plans are made public each and every day. Although most of those plans have similar aspects, the proof of whether those plans are successful will not be clear for at least a couple weeks.
FACTOR 8: “JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD.” Although we are working to identify a way for our program to return safely, “safely” means different things to different people. For the members of the JYBSA Board, we recognize we have a solemn duty to keep every kid safe. For us, “safely” means as safe as possible, all the time, and no matter what. As an example of how this mindset plays out in our operations, our lightning policy calls for us to suspend games at our ballpark any time lightning is visible from the park. We don’t suspend games because we believe a lightning sighting means someone is *definitely* going to get hit by lightning. Instead, we do it because the presence of lightning creates a risk that someone could get seriously hurt, and if we have it within our power to guarantee that nobody gets hurt, we’re simply not going to take the chance. We believe in the importance of youth sports as much as anybody else, but we never forget that youth sports are a kids’ game, and no youth sport is so important that it’s worth jeopardizing someone’s life. So, if we can return to play without putting people’s health at risk, we will. Until we can reach that conclusion, we won’t. For those who may disagree with our decision and feel we are being too conservative, we would only ask you to remember that while each parent is free to decide what risks might be acceptable for his or her own kids, our Board is not.
Again, these are just *some* of the factors we are evaluating. Over the next two weeks, our Board will continue to drill into every one of these factors to assess what we may be able to do, with our guide being what we believe is in the best interests of the kids and the program as a whole.
WHAT’S NEXT? Our Board will be meeting again in two weeks to review all the current information and hopefully make a go/no go decision. For planning purposes, if we do go forward, it is likely the start of our season would not be until July 1. If we cannot go forward as of July 1, it will then be increasingly likely that we will be declaring 2020 a “no go” season. We will continue to provide updates as events warrant.
CLOSING THOUGHTS. I’d like to close this message by noting something important. Because we write these updates for an audience that is interested in what’s going on with our program, our updates tend to focus on “what are we doing about coming back.” The only problem with that focus is that our prior messages have not gone nearly far enough to express our deep concern and appreciation for everyone in our community who has been hit hard by COVID-19. Our concern starts with the families of the 14 Rock County residents who have died from this virus. It goes to 90 people who have been hospitalized and the 452 people who have gotten sick. It goes to the all the health care providers and first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to care for us. It goes to all the government personnel at the City, County, and State levels who have been working hard and doing their best trying to deal with a public health crisis. It goes to all the “essential workers” who have continued to work despite their concerns for their own safety. It goes to all the businesses and people who are suffering financially, and particularly to the two-thirds of our JYBSA survey respondents who told us their finances are hurting due to the pandemic. And, last but not least, it goes to every single kid who’s had their life turned totally upside down and is living through something that few of us ever imagined. None of us ever dreamed we’d be in this situation. Now that we find ourselves together in this mess, let’s do our best to pick each other up. We hope our program will be able to play play a very small part in that, and we are going to keep working on it until we know for sure.
Take care and stay safe, everybody.
Local businesses and individuals have been providing critical financial support to JYBSA for over 60 years! Because every dollar of financial support helps us operate our programs each year, 100% of our sponsors' donations literally help us keep every player's fees as low as possible. Please thank our sponsors whenever you see them, and please patronize them as much as you can!