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Start date for winter high school sports delayed due to COVID

The decision was made based on indications from state health officials that the season would not be allowed under current COVID-related restrictions.
Stock photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

High school sports will have to wait for better news before resuming play in 2021. 

The Colorado High School Activities Association on Monday announced it is delaying the start of several sports that were slated to get underway on Jan. 4. Instead, practice for basketball, wrestling and others won’t begin until Jan. 25, with the first competitions starting Feb. 1.

Season B sports in Colorado this year are boys and girls basketball, boys and girls skiing, boys and girls wrestling, girls swimming and diving, ice hockey and spirit.

The decision was made based on indications from state health officials that the season would not be allowed under current COVID-related restrictions.

“Our top goal for the new year is to support a return to in-person learning,” Jill Hunsaker Rye, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, stated in a letter to CHSAA, excerpts of which the organization shared on Monday. “Season B sports are conducted mainly indoors during the colder months, which reduces the ability to assure social distancing. This in turn may further promote disease transmission at a time when we need to ensure that students and teachers are protected and that in-person learning is the highest priority.”

With the completion of the state football championships over the weekend, CHSAA was able to successfully oversee abridged cross country, football, boys golf and boys tennis schedules in Season A this fall. It initially hoped to schedule the remaining 27 boys and girls sports into a six-month window, but that window has now been reduced to five months.

Season C is slated to start March 15 and includes boys soccer and girls volleyball. Season D would begin May 3 with baseball, lacrosse and other sports extending into the last week of June.

“At this time, we do not have enough information about what disease incidence and hospitalization capacity will look like in January, and therefore are unable to make a determination regarding indoor high school athletics in Season B,” Rye stated in the letter to CHSAA. “Season B high school sports would operate based on the restrictions in the level of the dial in the county in which the school resides. For counties in Level Red, this means no indoor group sports are authorized."

CHSAA, CDPHE and Gov. Jared Polis' COVID Response Team plan to meet again in mid-January to continue the discussion around variances for Season B, and reassess COVID-19 data at that time, according to a Monday email from CHSAA and a post to its website. 

Variances will not be considered prior to that date and specifics for each sport will be communicated upon variance approval from the CDPHE, according to the email. 

County health department and school districts will determine open gym policies, per state guidance, CHSAA stated.