Stricter quarantines for school sports frustrating some teams |

Stricter quarantines for school sports frustrating some teams

Dylan Anderson
Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Many schools celebrated when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shortened quarantine times in December in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

It allowed staff and students to shorten quarantines to just seven days with a negative COVID-19 test or 10 days without a test, where it had previously been 14 days. Still, health experts say risk of transmission after seven- and 10-day quarantines is still above 10%, so guidelines require people to maintain 6 feet of distance, wear masks and avoid crowds.

When it comes to school sports, though, state health officials are still requiring the full 14-day quarantine period because of the higher risk of transmission associated with those activities and the inability to physically distance during games.

“It is not feasible for wrestlers or basketball players to maintain 6-foot physical distancing during matches or games,” the state agency wrote in a letter to local public health agencies last week. “Athletes are required to refrain from group activities for 14 days following exposure.”

Problems have arisen because not all Colorado counties have implemented the rules, leading to differences in how exposure to a positive case is dealt with from school to school.

The letter sent to public health and school officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment included this graphic, explaining the difference in quarantine times. Activities like athletics are higher risk, requiring the longer quarantine period.
Chart from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

“We can’t say that every other county has provided the same guidelines to their schools, and their schools are either not quarantining their athletes, or they are providing different guidelines for athletes in terms of quarantine,” Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith said in a Board of Health meeting last week.

Smith said local health officials have reached out to the state’s health department making them aware that other counties are not “playing fair” and disregarding the guidance from the state.

Summit County is following the 14-day rule.

Dr. Brian Harrington, Routt County Public Health chief medical officer, said state officials have made it clear there is no way around the 14-day guidance.

“We’re trying to work it out for our local schools,” Harrington said. “These are kids — some of them are seniors; this is their last chance. The sport seasons are short, and being in a 14-day quarantine functionally ends the season for some of these teams.”

The same quarantine guidelines are expected to remain in place for spring sports, as well. Football, volleyball and boys soccer are all slated to start within the next week, with contests starting in mid-March. Traditional spring sports will start up around the end of April and continue until mid-June.

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