Colorado High School Sports Association classifies sports by ‘risk’ for possible 2020-21 season restart
Association plans for 'low' risk at start of year, moderate-high risk 'at some point'
DILLON — On Wednesday the Colorado High School Athletics and Activities Association convened a resocialization task force to begin building a foundation plan to restart sports and activities during the 2020-21 school year amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The task force was comprised of pediatricians, orthopedists, sports medicine doctors, athletic trainers, superintendents, school administrators, coaches and association staff.
As part of the meeting and task force process, the association said it is classifying the association’s 29 sports into three categories: lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk.
Lower risk sports as defined as ones that can be conducted with social distancing, individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors.
Lower risk sports include golf, tennis, skiing, swimming, tennis, bowling and cheerleading. The association added swimming will only be categorized as lower risk if certain guidelines, such as social distancing, for swimming events are met. Otherwise, swimming would be considered a moderate risk sport.
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Moderate risk sports are either those that involve sustained close contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants, intermittent close contact or group sports or sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.
Moderate risk sports include cross-country running, track and field, field hockey, gymnastics, soccer, softball, volleyball, baseball and lacrosse. The association added track and field and gymnastics will be considered moderate when considering the sports as a whole, not individual disciplines, due to the sharing of equipment, surfaces and social distancing.
The association defines higher risk sports as those that involve close, sustained contact between participants, a lack of significant protective barriers and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.
Higher risk sports include football, competitive cheerleading and dance, basketball, ice hockey and wrestling.
The association added the categorization of music, speech, and student leadership will continue to be examined as guidance comes forward from various organizations and agencies.
The task force recommended the association explore beginning with “lower-risk” sports at the start of the 2020-21 school year. The association also conducted a survey of its membership — which included more than 900 responses from coaches, athletic directors, district athletics directors, superintendents and principals — for input.
“The traditional structure of a fall, spring or winter season has to be reexamined as resuming at any level could look different,” said Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green in a statement. She also said the association will think “outside the box” about sports next year.
Blanford-Green added the association wants to be careful with its recommendations, and doesn’t want to “get in front of the guidelines or medical data that hasn’t been clearly interpreted and make rash decisions which could negatively impact sports that could potentially start at some point this fall.”
For sports categorized as moderate and higher risk, the task force wants the association to gather definitive interpretations of state guidelines and medical data on when it would be safe to initiate their seasons. As of now, the association is not able to move forward with sports classified as moderate and high risk.
“The hope is to be able to find an opportunity to play those sports at some point during the 2020-21 school year,” CHSAA wrote in the statement.
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