COVID-19 Update: 2021-2022 FIRST Season Events

Sep 17, 2021 By Chris Rake, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, FIRST




FIRST FORWARD presented by Qualcomm


Dear FIRST® Community,

As we enter a third season of FIRST that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are again carrying out plans to deliver the impact of our mission to our participants during a time of great uncertainty. This includes accommodations for potential disruption, such as event modifications and the update to the FIRST Robotics Competition Payment Terms released today,

However, we recognize that as long as the pandemic continues, we will have FIRST participants who can’t access our hands-on programs in their schools and communities. FIRST believes that the best path toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic—and having a successful season—is through vaccination. We strongly recommend everyone who is eligible and has access to a vaccine consult with their physician and get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, there are many communities around the world who still don’t have widespread access to vaccines, and many children are not yet eligible. In addition, the impact of the pandemic is not universal, with local conditions changing frequently and rapidly. As a global organization with delivery partners, teams, volunteers, and events in more than 100 countries, our planning provides flexibility while also following the guidance of health and science experts from the CDC and WHO as well as local health regulations.

FIRST Event Planning

We are developing plans on how to best support FIRST events across all Programs. This includes the ability to implement modifications such as the use of masks, health screening, event scaling, social distancing, event formatting, and other precautions as determined by local conditions and regulations.

As many of you know, FIRST Program Delivery Partners plan and run local events for FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge. As with last season, both programs will continue to offer program and event modifications that include traditional (in-person), remote, or hybrid format options. The event format will be determined by our partners based on local conditions and regulations. For the latest information about FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge events in your region, contact your local FIRST Partner.

We also are continuing to plan for a return to in-person FIRST Robotics Competition game play events in early 2022. We recognize that there are many pandemic-driven uncertainties for teams who may experience circumstances beyond their control that could result in an individual team’s inability to attend their event(s).

To help with planning, FIRST headquarters has modified our Payment Terms to provide greater flexibility in navigating potential disruptions that may occur in the FIRST Robotics Competition season. Our goal was to give options for accommodating unexpected change, including the ability to move registration between comparable events as well as increasing the availability of refunds and vouchers. Some teams are in districts subject to separate payment terms, and so we encourage all FIRST Robotics Competition teams to review the updated Payment Terms and FIRST Robotics Competition Payment Terms Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for details.

Even further ahead are the in-person FIRST Championship events in Houston and Detroit in April 2022. We will continue to work on these plans over the next several months and will make more information available as we get closer. I sincerely hope I get the opportunity to meet many of you there, if not sooner.

Providing opportunities for hands-on learning and recognizing our teams’ incredible accomplishments are key elements to the lasting impact of FIRST. Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to disrupt many aspects of our lives, including the ability in some cases to gather in-person. So while we’re looking forward to seeing in-person competition and celebration, we are ready to adjust plans if needed. We remain committed to working with the entire FIRST community to deliver our programs to as many students as possible, as safely as possible, and I thank you for your continued support for our mission as we navigate the season together.


Chris Rake, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, FIRST

Visit our COVID-19 page for more season guidance.

Subscribe to the FIRST Newsletter for more season updates.

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