Dear Odyssey of the Mind Coaches and Officials,
Thursday evening our California North Association board voted unanimously to cancel the NorCal tournament. It was a painful decision, but we believe it is necessary.
Per the message sent to coaches on Monday, our intent was to proceed with the tournament taking the described responsible steps in keeping with public health agency recommendations (attached) to provide social distancing and additional sanitation measures and to adjust as we proceeded to re-invent our tournament logistics. We also trust that, had we proceeded with the tournament, the teams, coaches, parents, and officials would have partnered with us to respect the precautions. Not everyone agreed with us, but the small 15% decline in team registrations suggested that many did, and also supported our expectation that those who felt it would not be a good idea for them to attend had chosen not to.
As promised, we have monitored public health developments and restrictions as well as developments throughout the nationwide Odyssey community. Since Saturday several states postponed or cancelled their tournaments. Many of our registered teams have been prohibited by their school districts from attending. The spread of COVID 19 has accelerated, and in some places recommended precautions (see attached) were elevated to mandatory and events that could not be adjusted to smaller groupings were banned altogether. We also discussed concerns that a large portion of our officials are over 60. They too look forward to these tournaments, but for us to discourage potentially at risk people from attending while expecting these members of our Odyssey family to come this year doesn’t make a lot of sense.
We considered postponing the tournament, but decided against it. There is too much uncertainty around disease spread, timing before World Finals, site availability, etc. for all of us to pursue something that dicey.
We also discussed options for the participants to be able to perform remotely. Another association has explored that possibility in depth. There were many concerns around logistics and fairness that in person performance judging compensates for when compared to a video. Describing them is beyond the scope of this message, but you should know that topic was covered.
I will pursue potential options for allowing some California North teams to participate in World Finals, and will let you all know as soon as I have answers. Keep in mind that this will not happen quickly because this situation is uncharted. Ordinarily teams would not know if they were advancing until March 28. World Finals is still on at this point, but just as we anticipated we would hold our tournament, that could change as well.
Thanks for the understanding that many of you have expressed in your messages. Our association board is all volunteers, many of us also work full time, and most of us have been coaches, officials, and parents and are sharing the stress of this situation with you.
California North Association, Volunteer Director