The Colorado High School Activities Association will lifts its moratorium on in-person training between coaches and high school students starting June 1.
CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green sent an email to schools Tuesday addressing the change, as it will soon be up to local school districts to make decisions on player-coach contact during the summer months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s likely those decisions will vary based on differing conditions and local health orders across the state.
Multiple districts in the Denver metro have prohibited player-coach contact until July 1, while Jeffco Public Schools’ prohibition remains in place until Aug. 1. Jeffco schools athletic director Jim Thyfault said that date could be moved to the start of July, however, if public health orders from local authorities change.
“Right now I think you have to remain fluid,” Thyfault said in a phone interview. “I heard one of our athletes say it best last week when he said ‘I don’t want the decision made today, because I’m not too sure I’d like the decision.’ I thought that was a great point. We all know where we’re at right now, and where we’re at right now makes it pretty difficult.”
Like other districts in the metro, Cherry Creek School District’s facilities are closed through the end of June. Thus, it won’t be able to allow player-coach contact until July 1 at the earliest. And even that date remains in question, with Cherry Creek athletic director Larry Bull saying his district intends to re-evaluate the situation in mid-June.
Current state social distancing guidelines call for no more than 10 people in a room, with all those in the room at least six feet apart. Although, some counties can be granted a variance.
While those standards may allow for limited player-coach contact, there is no doubt things will have to change for sports to fully return this August. As Thyfault said Friday, any return to high school sports will have to be accompanied by a return to the classroom.
“We’re just going to remain optimistic that this thing is going to continue to get better over the course of the next two and a half months and in the end we’ll be able to have sports,” he said. “Whether that’s middle of August startup or a middle-of-September startup, it could be that we have to adjust seasons a little bit to make it happen.”
Last week, CHSAA announced the creation of a task force to solicit ideas for how and when high school athletics can return to play for the 2020-21 school year. There is no established timetable for when the association will make those decisions.
All summer bylaws remain in place for CHSAA. After June 1, the association’s administrative oversight on player-coach contact will not resume until camps, clinics and fall sports practice dates are scheduled.
In the email sent out to schools earlier this week, Blanford-Green provided administrators with a list of suggested guidelines to follow during the summer. Among those recommendations were that all training sessions be voluntary, that districts establish safety plans approved by administrators at the district and school levels, and that those plans are shared with all participants.
“Decisions to return to coach/participant contact will need to be made with an abundance of caution and within the state guidelines,” the email read. “As much as the return to athletics and activities is invading our every thought and the external pressure from coaches and parents mounts with each passing day, we must continue to make our decisions based on the safety and well-being of all those under our care.”
Other recommendations listed in the CHSAA email:
- Federal and state social distancing guidelines must be followed.
- The number of participants per session should align with federal and state public gathering mandates.
- Groups should be divided into “pods” and should include the same participants and coaches at each session.
- All participants should be screened prior to each session with temperature checks and health surveys.
- Signage should be posted in highly visible areas with questions pertaining to COVID-19.
- No use of locker rooms and showers, with athletes and coaches dressed to participate upon arrival.
- All equipment should be properly sanitized after every time it is used, with areas disinfected between staggered “pod” training sessions. And there should be no shared equipment, including balls, bats, clubs, rackets, sleds, helmets and masks.
- Hand sanitizer should be provided during all sessions.
- Participants should bring their own water bottles, with use of shared water sources prohibited.
- Spectators and non-essential individuals should not be allowed to attend, and outside groups should not be invited.
- Masks are recommended during all sessions.
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