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VABA Summer Camp: Mask Policy Update

By Ben D'Alessandro, 06/09/21, 8:00AM EDT


VABA Summer Camp: Mask Policy Update

Dear VABA Families:

The purpose of this email is to provide an update on VABA's summer camp "COVID protocols," (specifically, it's "Mask Policy").   Keep in mind, that all decisions are made after a great deal of discussion and deliberation, and always with the consultation of multiple medical professionals.  

Since VABA originally began promoting 2021 Summer Camps, and opened its registration, there have been multiple developments and progress with regard to COVID (in general) and athletics, basketball and summer basketball camps, specifically.  VABA's #1 priority is always SAFETY.    

In February, VABA worked very hard to establish an outdoor basketball camp setting - including tents, fans, shaded areas, etc., which would have, at that time, also required everyone to remain masked throughout all activities.  This was done with COVID-safety in mind.  However, it was determined that outdoor, masked activity would NOT be safe - nor fun and productive (both, critical goals in this process).  VABA then transitioned its summer program indoors, while requiring masks, and we began to promote accordingly.  

Along with everyone, our staff was been consistently staying up-to-speed on all developments, nationally and locally - as vaccinations have increased and case numbers decreased.  The good news, in our area, is that Charlottesville-Albemarle has seen a huge decrease (SEE DIAGRAM).


During this time, our staff has done a great deal of its own research on a very specific topic: Playing basketball in COVID.  Our staff has actively been pursuing the best and most pertinent information, and how this has been developing, over time.  This goes beyond the day-to-day concerns, but also concerns the SAFETY of the overall basketball experience - a sport which is intense and aerobic.  Since March of 2020, we've stayed in consistent contact with multiple medical professionals, including our ad-hoc, resident pediatrician - who, also happens to be a long-time VABA coach.  

Over the past 10 months, our staff has attended 30+ basketball events across the east coast - from clinics, to mini-camps, to overnight camps, to travel tournaments.  In addition, our staff has had numerous conversations with other basketball organization directors, officials, supervisors.  We have driven hundreds of miles, engaged with dozens of professionals, and developed personal relationships with those in the "basketball world," all with the aim of learning more about how other organizations are operating, safely, during this time.  Some of those places include Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach, Manheim (PA), Richmond, Northern VA, Washington D.C., Maryland, North Carolina.  Keep in mind, these events include, in some cases, up to 4,000 athletes, 500 coaches and 10,000 spectators - all coming from various locations around the country into one, centralized area. 

In addition, VABA has been carrying out its spring Bruins travel program.  These teams began practicing in March, and a majority chose to take the indoor, unmasked approach (this was up to the coach).  Some teams started practicing outdoors and masked, others indoors.  Throughout the entire spring, VABA Bruins teams participated in around 300 practices and almost 200 games (unmasked and indoors).  Keep in mind, games were played against teams from other areas over the course of many months. 

In all of these basketball programs and events, the policy remained consistent: Masks Optional while playing basketball (masks required for fans, observers, and players when not participating in basketball activities).   The only reported case of any health issue regarding masks came from a tournament which occurred (in Pennsylvania) which required masks for all its participants.  At this event, one player passed out due to a severe breathing issue on the court and was transported via helicopter to the Emergency Room.  Multiple tests determined that his toxicity level, for a severe breathing issue and/or cardiac arrest related to a lack of oxygen and inhalation of CO2.  

Regarding more steps VABA has taken during this time, in the last few weeks, we have added an outdoor court surface to our camp setting (including four of our portable goals from Polar Bear).  All breaks and snacks, etc. will take place outdoors, and there will also be games and drill-work done outside (when necessary).

Finally, VABA's reputation precedes itself when it comes to SAFETY, highlighted during this COVID-era by its creation of the only outdoor basketball league of its kind in the country!  We believe the negligible risks, the first-hand examples of safe basketball activities (within VABA and other organizations), and the ability to provide people the choice to exercise the option they can personally control, VABA CAN PROVIDE the fullest, most comprehensive basketball camp experience your child will ever have! 

For these reasons LISTED ABOVE, making the decisions we feel are in the best interests of SAFETY WHILE PLAYING BASKETBALL, VABA has updated its COVID/Mask Policy to include the following:

  • Masks Required during non-basketball/indoor activities when physical distancing cannot be maintained
    (bathroom breaks, check-in, etc.)
  • Masks Optional during all on-court basketball activities
  • Masks Required for all unvaccinated spectators/adults/fans
  • Health Affidavit & Waiver required before (on the day of camp)
  • Outdoor court added (four baskets) - all breaks, snack breaks, etc. held outdoors
  • Masks Optional whenever outside.
  • Campers bring their own duffle bag containing the following: Two basketballs, One water bottle, Snacks (personal items)

If you have any questions and/or feedback regarding these updated policies, please feel free to reply to me directly.   

IF these updated policies make your family uncomfortable, we respect this choice and will provide your family a 100% refund.  

We are sincerely looking forward to the privilege of working with your family this summer!

-Ben D'Alessandro
Executive Director
Virginia Basketball Academy
PO Box 2438, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Click here-->to Register today!
Click here -->VABA Summer Program Info
Click here -->VABA Summer Calendar

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