As our state continues to take steps to reopen safely, Special Olympics New York has developed a Return to Activities plan. The most important priority reflected throughout this plan is the health and safety of all of our participants: athletes, Polar Plungers, Unified partners, coaches, volunteers, family members, caregivers and staff.

Special Olympics New York has established a Return to Activities plan developed in close partnership with Special Olympics International and in compliance with federal and state guidelines. In-Person activities will be carried out in accordance with these guidelines and only as long as it continues to be safe to do so.


Polar Plunge COVID Safety Plan

Instead of large groups congregating and plunging at once, we have restructured the event so that each team will have a personalized Polar Plunge experience in a controlled and safe environment. Polar Plunge waves will be assigned by team and be compliant with the CDC event guidelines and NYS Governors orders. All spectators and volunteers will be required to wear masks. Plungers will be asked to wear masks up until plunge time.

Signage will be up throughout the venue with social distancing and safety reminders. Rolling PA announcement will also be made throughout the event.

For 2021 there will not be a large tent or large gathering space for participants to congregate. The events will be in an open air environment. For some venues there will be a registration cap.

Registration Process

At Outdoor Registration Check In:

All participants will be required to sign a digital waiver upon online registration to limit contact on the event day. Online fundraising will be strongly encouraged, if participants have offline donations they will be asked to mail to the office prior to the event. If cash and checks are brought to the event they will be placed into an envelope, sealed and processed in a safe and contained environment after the event.

A volunteer, wearing a mask and gloves, will check in each participant and verify their registration from a paper spreadsheet. For participants who raise the minimum fundraising threshold they will pick up a green bracelet for those who do not they will get a yellow bracelet. Participants will then take their sweatshirt from the sweatshirt table sorted by size. Volunteers who organize sweatshirts on the tables will be wearing gloves and masks. Hand sanitizer will be available at each registration station and sweatshirt pick up tables.
There will be a separate area/table for those who did not register online. They will need to sign a paper waiver.
Volunteers will be wearing a mask and gloves and pens will be sanitized between uses.

Social Distancing Ambassadors will be on hand in the registration area to ensure proper social distancing. No more than one team will be going through this process at one time.

The Plunge:

Each Polar Plunge Team will be assigned a Plunge time. For example, XXX Team will have a specific time slot for said team only. Teams will not be able to check in until 10 minutes before their assigned plunge time. Upon check in (above process) they will be directed to the beach. Volunteers (social distance ambassadors) will also be on hand to enforce proper social distancing within teams on the way to and on the beach. Depending on State guidelines groups of said mandated number will be able to plunge in one allotted timeframe. If teams are larger than group allotments, they will be split into multiple time slots. Individual participants (not signed up with a team) will be assigned a plunge time as well. Once again, no more than the allotted maximum will be assigned at once. Plunge times will be assigned approximately every 10-20 minutes.
This personalized approach will not only allow for proper social distancing but also give our participants a very exclusive experience in the water with a dedicated photographer.

Divers will be in the water and EMS on hand for each plunge.

Specific to each event:

Bathrooms – If available, only the allotted number of people will be allowed in the bathroom at a time. Both indoor and port-a-potties – volunteers will be on hand to sanitize handles and provide hand sanitizer.
Changing tents/areas: If permitted, one plunge team at a time will be in the changing tents. Surfaces will be wiped down in between groups. Areas will be large enough to ensure proper social distancing. This will be evaluated by location and may not be offered at some venues in 2021.
** Numbers in each wave will be dictated and adjusted based on current NYS Event Guidelines per the Governor.