CHSAA, state health officials again delay start of winter high school sports season

Glenwood Springs Post Independent staff report
Aspen High School basketball plays against Vail Christian on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, inside the AHS gymnasium. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)

The next season of high school sports that was to begin Jan. 4 is being delayed by nearly a month, according to a Monday press release from the Colorado High School Activities Association.

A Feb. 1 start date has been proposed by CHSAA for the realigned Season B, which is to include boys and girls basketball, ice hockey, skiing, spirit, girls swimming and wrestling.

CHSAA explained in the release that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) sent a letter to CHSAA indicating that Season B would not be permitted to start as planned on Jan. 4. State Health also indicated no variances will be given to CHSAA sports to start at the time.

In the letter, CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan wrote that the department is “very concerned” the COVID-19 transmission rate will continue to increase and does not have enough information about what disease incidence and hospital capacity will look like in January.

Hunsaker Ryan said high school sports will operate based on each county’s dial level restrictions and that no indoor group sports are authorized for counties in level red.

“Season B sports are conducted mainly indoors during the colder months, which reduces the ability to assure social distancing,” Hunsaker Ryan wrote.

CHSAA, state health officials and Gov. Jared Polis’ COVID Response Team plan to meet in mid-January to discuss variances for Season B and reassess COVID-19 data, according to the release.

Superintendents of the three Garfield County school districts were on the line with county commissioners during the weekly public health update Monday morning. They’ve been meeting weekly with area medical and public health officials to discuss a coordinated plan of action regarding school sports.

Based on the current conditions, no spectators would be allowed to attend any sporting events in any case, the group advised the commissioners.

“We have come to a consensus that we’d like to move ahead with Season B, but prohibit spectators from attending games and practices,” Garfield Re-2 Superintendent Heather Grumley said during the meeting, which took place before CHSAA’s announcement.

Once school sports do resume, student-athletes will be discouraged from carpooling to events and to take the buses, which will be operated under strict COVID-19 protocols, Grumley said.

Ride-sharing between non-related people has been linked by public health officials to the increase in disease spread.

Added Garfield District 16 Superintendent Brad Ray, “Athletics are a huge part of student life and the community. We will follow the guidance from CHSAA,” he said.

When it comes to both sports and the ability to continue with in-person learning, “It’s really the community that needs to do its part,” Roaring Fork District Superintendent Rob Stein said.

The delay of prep sports Season B also will push back Seasons C and D, slated now for seven instead of eight weeks, to run from March 15-May 8 and May 3-June 26, respectively.

Season C is to include football for those schools that opted for the spring season instead of fall, which includes all three local districts, as well as Aspen. That season would now run from March 15 to May 15, along with boys soccer and girls volleyball.

Season D is slated to include baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, coed track and field, boys swimming and diving, and girls soccer, golf and tennis.

“With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Garfield County, the three districts wanted to bring a consistent approach to athletics and provide every opportunity for the county’s student-athletes to compete,” reads a news releases issued by Garfield Re-2 schools.

Regarding the prohibition on spectators, “Parents are excellent supports for their children/student-athletes, and we know that they want to be there to share in the victories and defeats,” the statement reads. “All three districts are working on providing opportunities that will allow not only parents but family members from wherever they may live, to watch Garfield County’s student-athletes perform.”


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