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USQ Programs and Policies Affected by COVID-19 in the 2020-21 Season

 This article contains information on how USQ is responding to COVID-19 in the 2020-21 season and the pandemic’s impacts on different programs and policies. It also has information on the soon to be released joint USQ and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) COVID-19 return to play guidelines.

Update on July 30

In response to community feedback, USQ and MLQ will not be proceeding with the #BackOnPitch pledge. The full MLQ/USQ return to play guidelines will still be posted next week.


 

INTRODUCTION

This article contains information on how USQ is responding to COVID-19 in the 2020-21 season and the pandemic’s impacts on different programs and policies. It also has information on the soon to be released joint USQ and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) COVID-19 return to play guidelines.  

All updates related to the response to COVID-19 are available on this section of our website. You can get there by clicking Events -> All Events -> COVID-19.

USQ Livestream on July 30

On Thursday, July 30, at 9 pm ET USQ will be hosting an hour-long livestream to go over all the updates in this article on Facebook. USQ staff will also answer any initial follow-up questions that members have.

During this livestream, the community will have the opportunity to meet the members of USQ staff who helped develop these plans, and learn more about our collaboration with MLQ on COVID-19 safety policies and procedures.

SUMMARY

The health and safety of everyone in our community is of the utmost importance for USQ right now. All of the changes we’re making this season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are based on recommendations from different federal and state public health agencies, as well as other sports organizations and national governing bodies who have already begun to resume in-person activities. Having clear guidelines in place to reduce outbreaks is crucial to navigating the next phase of this pandemic, and they must be maintained through the new season.

  • USQ will host three regional championships/circuit events in the fall and three regional championships/circuit events in the spring, and they will be open to all teams in both the collegiate and club divisions. Attendance will be capped based on state and local guidelines for outdoor gatherings. More details are available here.
  • USQ-hosted events in the fall will not have spectators. More details are available here.
  • In December, USQ staff and regional coordinators will solicit feedback from teams on their ability to participate in the spring regional championships and the second half of the season. More details are available here.
  • All teams will be required to follow the return to play guidelines, developed in collaboration with MLQ. The return to play guidelines will be posted next week. More details are available here.
  • For regional championships and USQ-hosted circuit events, there is a five team minimum for the collegiate division, and a four team minimum for the club division. A USQ-hosted event may take place with teams from just one division. More details are available here.
  • Teams and tournament directors may not host official games or sanctioned events until a later date in the fall. The delay is to give the USQ rules team and the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee more time to complete the previously announced equity audit of Rulebook 14. It will also allow for more time for the USQ referee and snitch runner teams to update the written certification tests in light of any changes that come out of the audit. Once the rulebook and written certification tests are nearly finished, we will post on our website when official games and sanctioned events may begin. More details are available here.
  • The deadline to submit an event to the USQ calendar in the 2020-21 season is two weeks in advance of the event. When the event is submitted to the calendar, it must include evidence of state and local guidelines that prove large outdoor gatherings of that size are permitted at the facility where the event is taking place. More details are available here.
  • There will be no tier demotion for head referees corresponding to the end of the 2019-20 season. If a head referee has passed a field test in either the 2019-20 or 2020-21 season and head-reffed at least one other game in the 2019-20 or 2020-21 season, they will not be subject to the usual mandatory tier demotion in May 2021. More details are available here.
  • At the end of this article is a list of upcoming USQ announcements. Click here for the full list.

USQ-HOSTED EVENTS

After gathering feedback from staff, teams, and host cities, USQ has decided to move forward with hosting fall regional championships and circuit events. Director of Events and Partnerships, Laura Porth, with the assistance of Strategic Planning Manager, Megan Anderson, USQ regional coordinators, and quidditch conference leaders surveyed teams to see what their status is for this upcoming fall season. Out of the 75 responses (14 club and 61 collegiate), 50 teams said they are unsure of their plans for the fall at this time. 

Porth reached the city partners for USQ-hosted fall events, to get their feedback on where their state/local area is with re-opening and what additional guidelines or policies USQ needed to be aware of as we were making our decisions. Each city partner provided USQ with the current safety guidelines in their area.

USQ and our city partners remain hopeful that we can successfully and safely host some regional championships this season.

Fall Regional Championships and Circuit Events, 2020-21 season

Northeast Regional Championship - Warwick, Rhode Island - Bend Street Field Complex - October 31-November 1, 2020. 

Great Lakes Regional Championship - Bloomington, Indiana - Karst Farm Park - November 7-8, 2020.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship - Goldsboro, North Carolina - Bryan Multi-Sports Complex - November 14-15, 2020.

After discussion with our partners at Sarpy County Tourism, USQ has decided not to host the Midwest Regional Championship this year. Instead, Sarpy County is deferring their bid for this season to next season, and will host the Midwest Regional Championship at Papillion Landing in fall 2021. The feedback from last year’s Midwest Regional Championship, which was hosted in the same place, was tremendously positive. USQ and Sarpy County Tourism want to offer a similar experience to teams, spectators, vendors, and all other attendees. Given the potential for significantly less teams this season due to the impacts felt from COVID-19, it wouldn’t be possible to offer that this season. Deferring the bid to 2021 will allow for a safe, fun, and enjoyable experience for all participants and spectators. 

USQ’s events and gameplay departments have made the following updates to regional championships and circuit events for the 2020-21 season:

  • USQ-hosted events in the fall will not have spectators.
  • All regional championships will be open, regardless of where your team is from.
  • For regional championships and USQ-hosted circuit events, there is a five team minimum for the collegiate division, and a four team minimum for the club division.
  • A USQ-hosted event may take place with teams from just one division.
  • Teams are not required to participate in a regional to go to USQ Cup 14.
  • Collegiate and club teams can play in multiple regional championships.
  • There will be a cap on the number of teams who can attend each event based on the hosting state and local outdoor gathering guidelines in October and November. More information on team registration is below.
  • There will be increased safety and sanitation procedures that all attendees will be required to follow.

Throughout the next few months, USQ staff and regional coordinators will be working with the host cities and the quidditch community to continually monitor state reopening guidelines and teams’ participation availability. When we draw closer to October and November, we will reevaluate if hosting a regional is in the best interest of the teams, officials, volunteers, and USQ staff. If it is decided to cancel a regional, we will announce that decision no later than 30 days prior to the championship’s start date. 

The last possible cancellation date for each regional championship is: 

  • Northeast Regional Championship - Thursday, October 1, 2020. 
  • Great Lakes Regional Championship - Thursday, October 8, 2020.
  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship - Thursday, October 15, 2020.

Spring Regional Championships and Circuit Events, 2020-21 season

Spring regional championships and circuit events for the 2020-21 season are still being held at their originally scheduled dates and locations. In December, USQ staff and regional coordinators will solicit feedback from teams on their ability to participate in the spring regional championships and the second half of the event season. 

Spring regional championship and circuit event dates are as follows:

South Regional Championship - Columbia, South Carolina - The Fields at Saluda Shoals Park - February 13-14, 2021.

Southwest Regional Championship - Round Rock, Texas - Round Rock Multipurpose Complex - February 20-21, 2021.

West Regional Championship - Livermore, California - Robertson Park - February 27-28, 2021.

USQ Cup 14

USQ Cup 14 is scheduled to take place April 17-18, 2021 in Salt Lake City Utah. As previously announced, USQ Cup 14 will be an open invitational, instead of a bid based tournament. There will be one division for club, and two divisions for collegiate. 

There will be reduced season play requirements for both the collegiate and club divisions to participate in USQ Cup 14. Teams from both divisions will not be required to attend a regional championship in order to be eligible to compete at the event. 

TEAM REGISTRATION

Due to the limited amount of games and tournaments in the upcoming 2020-21 season, USQ’s gameplay team has updated the season play requirements for both collegiate and club teams. There are no season play requirements for any regional championships and there will be reduced requirements for USQ Cup 14. The season play requirements for USQ Cup 14 will be posted in August on our website as part of a larger update on gameplay policies for this season  For a team to compete at a USQ regional championship, they must be fully registered for the tournament and the team membership fee must be paid at least 2 weeks prior to the event. Games played at a USQ-hosted event will count towards USQ Cup 14 seasonal play requirements. 

More information on registration for regional championships and circuit events will be available on our website later in August. USQ Cup 14 registration information will be available later this year.

RETURN TO PLAY POLICIES

USQ and MLQ are creating joint COVID-19 return to plan guidelines. They will be available next week.

Safety is the number one priority for all quidditch activities. USQ and MLQ are committed to supporting teams and members in returning to practice and competition as soon as it is safe to do so. The purpose of the guidelines are to provide USQ and MLQ players, coaches, team leaders, and tournament directors with information on how to safely resume in-person quidditch activities as federal, state, and local restrictions related to COVID-19 adjust around the country.

EVENT AND GAMEPLAY POLICIES

Official Games and Sanctioned Events

Official matches and sanctioned events can still take place in the fall. We will support teams that choose to organize their own games, though we will be requiring that all teams follow the return to play guidelines and their local procedures for large outdoor gatherings. 

Please note that teams and tournament directors may not host official games or sanctioned events until a later date in the fall that will be announced by USQ. The delay is to give the USQ rules team and the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee more time to complete the previously announced equity audit of Rulebook 14. It will also allow for more time for the USQ referee and snitch runner teams to update the written certification tests in light of any changes that come out of the audit. Once the rulebook and written certification tests are nearly finished, we will post on our website when official games and sanctioned events may begin.

The deadline to submit an event to the USQ calendar in the 2020-21 season is two weeks in advance of the event. When the event is submitted to the calendar, it must include evidence of state and local guidelines that prove large outdoor gatherings of that size are permitted at the facility where the event is taking place. To ensure enough time for USQ staff to review the state and local guidelines, we recommend that TDs submit their event to the calendar at least a month out. 

If your team is located in a state that is not allowing large gatherings, we strongly recommend you refrain from hosting any quidditch event. We expect all teams to follow all school, state, local, and federal safety guidelines.

Additional updates to gameplay policies will be provided in August. 

To apply to have a tournament sanctioned by USQ, the tournament director must submit an application and proof of state guidelines no later than one month in advance of the event. If financial support is requested, applications must be received by the following dates:

  • For events September 15-October 31: pending depending on when official games and sanctioned events are starting up 
    • Grant awards will be done in September or October, depending on when activities resume. 
  • For events November 1-December 31: September 12, 2020 
    • Grants will be awarded starting the week of September 16.
  • For events January 1-February 28: November 14, 2020 
    • Grants will be awarded starting the week of November 18.
  • For events March 1-April 30: January 16, 2021 
    • Grants will be awarded starting the week of January 20.

For more information on event sanctioning visit the website here

Referee Certification

USQ’s referee team has determined that there will be no tier demotion for head referees corresponding to the end of the 2019-20 season. If a head referee has passed a field test in either the 2019-20 or 2020-21 season and head-reffed at least one other game in the 2019-20 or 2020-21 season, they will not be subject to the usual mandatory tier demotion in May 2021.

As previously announced, head referees will be paid $20/official game beginning this season. This fee also applies to unofficial games taking place at sanctioned events. Also, playing referees no longer have to purchase an additional membership to become lead assistant referee or head referee certified. For non-playing referees, the membership fee is now $20.

The written referee certification tests will be available in early September. 

Snitch Runner Certification

The process of becoming a certified snitch runner in the 2020-21 season, supervised by USQ’s snitch runner team, is changing this season, with the introduction of tiers and other adjustments. More information on that will be released the week of August 17. 

Tournament Director Certification 

USQ’s events department has been working on updating the tournament director certification and tournament director resources for the 2020-21 season. There will be no major changes to the process for new TDs or recertifying TDs. Both new and recertifying TDs have their own tests that will be available starting August 19. For more information visit the website here

MEMBERSHIP POLICIES

As mentioned in June’s gameplay department recap article, we are adjusting the refund policy for memberships this season, and adding a new credit policy.

If a team registers for this season and then is unable to play due to COVID-19, their team and player fees will be available as a credit for future seasons. This credit policy will also be extended to player memberships as well. If a player does not participate in a single official game next season, they may request that their membership be applied to the following season. To request a membership credit, individuals and teams will have to fill out a form, which will be available later this fall on the USQ website. 

Partial refunds may be available on a case by case basis and the amount will depend on what USQ activities the team/member has participated in. 

Membership Grants

Information on how to apply for membership grants will be available the week of August 10. Available grants will include the launch of Let the Kids Play equipment program, the team member grant, and the USQ Cup registration fee grant.

Coach Certification

Coach certification for the 2020-21 season will open the week of August 19. As previously announced, coach memberships are now free.

UPCOMING USQ ANNOUNCEMENTS

As we mentioned above, tomorrow (Thursday, July 30) USQ is hosting a livestream at 9 pm ET on Facebook to go over all the updates in this article. 

Upcoming program announcements and league updates:

  • Board member recruitment: week of August 3
  • US national team update: week of August 3
  • Annual report for the 2018-19 Season: week of August 3
  • Updates to USQ’s volunteer program: week of August 3
  • Membership grants: week of August 10
  • Updates on snitch certification process: week of August 17
  • Registration process for fall regional championships and circuit events: week of August 17
  • Gameplay policies for the 2020-21 season: week of August 17
  • Update on start of official games and sanctioned events: week of August 24
  • Release of Rulebook 14: September

Certifications open up:

  • Coach certification: week of August 19
  • Tournament director certification: week of August 19
  • Referee certification: September
  • Snitch runner certification: September

QUESTIONS

Teams should contact their regional coordinators with questions. A full list of all the regional coordinators is available on our website here.

For other questions, here’s who to contact: