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Letter Advocating for Ice Rink Usage for Learn-to-Skate and Figure Skating

Hello Skating families! Many of us are terribly disappointed that COVID outbreaks among hockey programs has caused the rinks to close for all of us. Our program directors and some parents may wish to advocate re-opening the rinks for learn-to-skate and figure skating. Following is the letter we have used to email the governor’s office. Please feel free to use it as a template for your own communication. You can also contact the governor’s office by phone at (617) 725-4005.

Dear Governor Baker,

I am writing to you regarding the closure of ice rinks in Massachusetts on October 22, 2020, on behalf of learn-to-skate and figure skating programs.

As residents and as parents, the safety of our skaters and families is absolutely paramount. We recognize the increased risk of indoor activities in the spread of COVID-19, especially when it comes to team sports with close contact and heavy exertion such as hockey.

However, we respectfully insist that closing the rinks because of hockey-based outbreaks is painting too many kids with too broad a brush. Many different groups use the ice rinks and do not have the same risk profile as hockey.

Our learn-to-skate and figure skating participants of all ages use the ice and the rink in a completely different – and much lower-risk – manner than hockey teams. As an individual sport, our skaters are much more able to keep appropriate distance from one another. Skaters and coaches consistently wear masks for the entirety of their time in the building. We are not producing any performances or competitions, so there are no spectators in the stands during our lessons and practice sessions. Our skaters do not have any gear to put on or take off, so they are not using the locker rooms.

The data cites 30 outbreaks connected to hockey in Massachusetts, and we agree wholeheartedly that steps should be taken to mitigate those risks. Again, the health and safety of our skaters and families is the top concern. However, none of those outbreaks have been connected with learn-to-skate or figure skating organizations or gatherings.

We have witnessed, at numerous rinks across the state, vast differences in adherence to safety protocols between hockey programs and learn-to-skate/figure skating. While our learn-to-skate groups have been cut in half to reduce capacity and every participant wears a mask from the four-year-old new skater to the experienced coaches, we see full hockey teams barging into the rink with few to no masks and absolutely zero regard for social distancing. From peewee leagues to high school and hockey teams, it remains the same: many to most of the kids and parents unmasked and virtually no supervision or enforcement from the coaching staff or administration.

We as an organization and as individuals fully support efforts to keep our communities as safe as possible during the pandemic. Like anyone else, we are constantly making risk/benefit choices in our lives to keep ourselves and our families healthy. But figure skating and learn-to-skate provides a critical outlet for physical and even mental health for our skaters, not to mention livelihood for our coaches, and we are able to do so in a way that keeps the risks much lower than our hockey colleagues.

Please do not punish all programs and skaters, when the clear risk is from hockey and not figure skating. Please allow the rinks to remain open for learn-to-skate and figure skating programs.

Thank you,
E— J–
Co-Director, Burlington Skating
Member Parent, Winchester Figure Skating Club


Fall 2020 COVID-19 Regulations

Three figure skaters and their coach, all wearing masks and giving thumbs-up.

For the safety of all of our skaters, coaches, and families, we will be implementing a number of changes during the Fall 2020 learn-to-skate session (and likely beyond) to avoid crowding and reduce risk. Please read below for details. We thank everyone in our skating community for their support and cooperation during this time!

    • While we love nothing more than welcoming brand new friends to the ice for the very first time, we are not able to safely serve our youngest, newest skaters this season. If you are not sure the level at which your skater most recently tested, please contact info@burlingtonskating.org and we will be happy to check our records for you.
    • UPDATE for Winter 2020-2021: we are opening registration to all levels, HOWEVER, brand-new skaters must be age 6 or older at the start of the session. Returning skaters of all ages are welcome to continue.
    • Everyone entering the building will be expected to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose for the entirety of their time indoors. Skaters and coaches will keep masks on while on the ice. Parents accompanying their skaters (more on this below) must keep their masks on while inside the Ice Palace.
      (Need a new mask? Find some in our merchandise store!)
    • We will be asking families to submit a screening each week before the lesson, asking about symptoms and possible exposures. PLEASE err on the side of caution and stay home if your skater isn’t feeling well, even if you feel confident it’s “just” a cold or something else.
    • In accordance with state guidelines, we will allow no more than 25 people on the ice at a time. We will set registration caps online to limit the number of skaters who register for each session.
    • As you know, the lobby of the Ice Palace gets crowded quickly! To minimize this issue, we will institute the following procedures:
      • Skaters must put their skates on before entering the building. Make sure they have hard skate guards so they can safely walk from the parking lot to the rink! Reminder: masks must be worn by everyone whenever you are inside the building.
      • Please do not enter the building more than ten minutes prior to the start of your lesson time.
      • When the lesson ends, we will ask all skaters to exit promptly at the scoreboard end of the rink, which opens directly into the parking lot area, rather than coming back out into the lobby. Please wait until you are outside to change out of your skates.
    • Skate rentals will NOT be offered at this time. All skaters must have their own pair of skates. If you have any questions about purchasing a first pair of skates, please visit our FAQ page for information and recommendations! Make sure you also have a set of hard guards.
    • We know how much parents (and sometimes friends or grandparents!) love to watch their child skate. However, in order to maintain appropriate physical distance, at this time we must severely limit the number of non-skaters present inside the Ice Palace.
    • Additionally, we will be marking out distanced spaces in the stands for parents to sit while their child skates. PLEASE respect distances, keep your mask on, and do not approach the glass or the doors to the ice.
    • Basic 2 through Pre-Free Skate skaters should be accompanied by ONE PARENT OR GUARDIAN, ONLY. Please do not bring any additional friends or family members into the building, including siblings.
    • For parents of our more experienced Free Skate and Graduate skaters, we would ask that you not stay inside the Ice Palace while your child is skating whenever possible. If your skater is under the age of 12, please stay close by (such as in the parking lot) for the duration of their lesson.
    • Coaches will make every effort to encourage skaters to maintain distance between one another while on the ice, as well as keeping at a distance, themselves. Please work with us to remind your child of the importance of giving each other a “bubble” of personal space!
    • Basic-level skaters will be divided into smaller groups based on ability and will stay in one section of the ice with their small group and coach for the duration of the lesson.
    • Please make sure your skater brings their own supplies – such as gloves, skate guards, helmets, tissues, water bottles, hand sanitizer, etc. – and that those items are kept contained. Younger skaters can have their parents hold onto these items in the stands. Free Skate and Graduate skaters may bring their own small bags onto the ice if necessary.
    • If you do not already have a dedicated “skate bag,” we highly recommend it! A backpack or reusable shopping bag is a great choice to keep track of skates, guards, and everything else you will need each week. Want a cool new cinch-style backpack or a sturdy duffle bag? Check our our merchandise shop!