High school winter sports set to begin in January

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    By Randi Pierce
    Staff Writer

    Another sports season is just around the corner for Colorado high school athletes, following recent variance approvals by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

    The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) announced the approvals shortly before Christmas, with practices for Season B slated to begin Jan. 18, 2021 — earlier than the Feb. 1, 2021, date CHSAA recently proposed.

    In early December, CHSAA announced that Season B, which was originally set to begin on Jan. 4, 2021, had been delayed due to rising COVID-19 cases across the state, with that delay also affecting the remainder of the school year’s sports seasons.

    At that time, the CDPHE indicated in a letter that it did not have enough information “about what disease incidence and hospitalization capacity will look like in January” to make any determinations about indoor high school athletics in Season B.

    For Pagosa Springs High School (PSHS), Season B will include girls’ swimming, wrestling, basketball and competitive spirit.

    According to CHSAA, the approved calendar will be revised to begin competition on Jan. 25.

    “Originally, Season B was proposed to begin on Feb. 1,” a CHSAA press release states. “Through collaborative negotiations, the Jan. 18 start date aligns with Gov. Jared Polis’ announcement to prioritize in-person or hybrid learning models.”

    “For months, our office has been laser-focused on students and the safe resumption of high school sports and activities in 2021,” said CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green. “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 announced that its administrative staff has planned a series of virtual meetings for athletic directors and coaches to provide details on the implementation of each sport, with those meetings set to begin on Jan. 4, 2021.

    CHSAA explained that, under the current dial levels, CHSAA-sponsored events could not be conducted due to public health restrictions at the state level that limited the number of athletes to practice or compete in a facility. For example, the current guidelines only allow basketball to have 10 total individuals (including coaches, athletes, trainers, etc.) in a gym.

    Therefore, variance approval from CDPHE and state officials was critical to begin any sport or activity. For example, the basketball variance will permit teams to have 24 players total, as well as coaches and trainers.

    Approval of these variances allows for statewide consistency and sustainability of competition when diverse local health interpretations could restrict member participation regionally.

     PSHS Athletic Director Marcie Ham previously reported to The SUN that athletic directors across the state are taking lessons learned from the fall sports seasons and applying them to the upcoming seasons, but warned that spectators may not be allowed when the season begins.