High school athletes will start a season in January after all.
The Colorado High School Activities Association today announced that following multiple meetings last week and over the weekend, it has secured variances from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and state officials that will allow all Season B sports and activities to begin practice on Jan. 18.
Sports that can start practice on Jan. 18 and start competition on Jan. 25 are ice hockey, skiing, girls swimming, wrestling, basketball and competitive spirit, according to CHSAA.
Earlier this month, the Season B start date was pushed to Feb. 1 based on indications from state health officials the season would not be allowed under COVID-related restrictions.
The Jan. 18 start date aligns with Gov. Jared Polis' announcement to prioritize in-person or hybrid learning models, CHSAA stated in a post to its website.
Polis and a group of public health and education leaders on Dec. 15 released a “roadmap” for getting students back to the classroom as soon as possible in 2021.
St. Vrain Valley School District last week announced its plan to return to in-person learning in January on a staggered schedule by grade. Under that plan, high school students are slated to return to online learning on Jan. 6 and then switch to a hybrid model that includes attending classes at school and online on Jan. 19.
CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green in the post stated, "For months, our office has been laser-focused on students and the safe resumption of high school sports and activities in 2021. The conversations with CDPHE and the Governor's COVID Response Team to resume Season B sports have been intentional and assertive. Though it has taken many late nights and weekends, we are thrilled that our student-athletes, member schools and local school communities have a resolution. Educationally-based athletics are a vital extension of the classroom."
CHSAA will hold a series of virtual meetings for athletic directors and coaches to provide details on the implementation of each sport, according to the post. Those meetings will begin on Jan. 4.
Under the current restrictions based on the state’s COVID dial dashboard, CHSAA-sponsored events could not be conducted because of limits on the number of athletes allowed to practice or compete in a facility, CHSAA stated in its post.
“For example, the current guidelines only allow basketball to have 10 total individuals (including coaches, athletes, trainers, etc.) in a gym,” the post states.
Variance approval from the state health department and officials was critical to begin any sport or activity, according to CHSAA
“For example, the basketball variance will permit teams to have 24 players total, as well as coaches and trainers,” CHSAA stated in the post. “Approval of these variances allows for statewide consistency and sustainability of competition when diverse local health interpretations could restrict member participation regionally.”
Blanford-Green stated, "We're all in this together. Our state officials, especially CDPHE, have a responsibility to prioritize student safety. We appreciate their support and advocacy for resuming athletics and activities for the state of Colorado in 2021."
Chase McBride, St. Vrain Executive Director of Athletics, Activities, Fine Arts, PE and Health, said, “We are most excited our kids are going to have the opportunity to participate. We will continue to work diligently with Boulder County Health to provide the safest environment possible for our students during these difficult times.”