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BVSD, SVVSD to continue closure of facilities past CHSAA moratorium lift

Local districts continue to follow county health recommendations

Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
Skyline High School’s Molly Hennessy puts a juke on Allison Seery during a game against Mead on Wednesday in Longmont.
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On Friday, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced it would be lifting the moratorium on in-person conditioning held between prep athletes and coaching beginning June 1.

The state’s governing body for high school athletics and activities also proclaimed that following June 1, decisions on summer athletics and activities would be left up to local school districts. That effectively passed control and oversight down to the local level until CHSAA resumes control when fall activities are projected to begin, which has yet to be determined.

But when it comes to the St. Vrain Valley School District and the Boulder Valley School District, local administrations say decisions on in-person gatherings will be dictated by local public health agencies.

“We submitted a proposal to get St. Vrain students back out there in some capacity, both from a fine arts and athletic standpoint, and it was denied by Boulder County Health,” St. Vrain district athletic director Chase McBride said. “We tried to thin it out as much as possible but it didn’t meet guidelines.

“For the kids that are involved in these, it’s therapeutic. We don’t want to keep that from them and that’s difficult. But we have to put our faith and trust in local health advisors. We’ll keep trying to make plans and when they say it’s time to go, we’ll be ready.”

The CHSAA guidelines for returning to in-person conditioning starting June 1 include all summer workout being voluntary and that all schools must have a written “Return to Participate” safety plane that has been approved by the superintendent, president or head of the school. Recommendations for proposed safety plans include adhering to federal and state guidelines for social distancing, dividing into small and consistent groups for training, screening of all participants prior to each session, no shared equipment or use of facilities, and strict sanitation guidelines.

Necessary as they are, the many restrictions and guidelines required for a return to in-person conditioning create incredible logistical and enforcement challenges for districts and schools to overcome.

McBride and Boulder Valley district athletic director Michele DeBerry say they have been working closely with one another to continually develop elaborate plans for limited in-person activities to account to for social distancing and to operate under health guidelines. But nothing will be put in place until the districts are given the official go-ahead from public health officials.

“I don’t know that that most recent announcement changed anything, really,” DeBerry said. “They announced back in April that there would be no contact through June 1 and that school districts would take over after that. We’ve met together and with Boulder Valley Health and Broomfield Health & Human Services five or six times over the last 10 days and determined that with the current guidelines, we would continue with no contact through June 30. We plan to reevaluate on June 15 to look at July. We want to get back to sports but we’ve got people’s lives in our hands so we have to rely on the advice of health professionals.”

As reported in the Denver Post last week, multiple districts in the Denver metro have prohibited player-coach contact until July 1, while Denver Public Schools and Jeffco Public Schools’ prohibitions remain in place until Aug. 1. The Thompson School District in Loveland also anticipates keeping with a mid-to-late-June re-evaluation for a possible July 1 date of allowable in-person contact.

Apart from talking about when they can’t do, BVSD and SVVSD district and school athletic directors are also discussing things they can do.

At the local district level, administrations continue to encourage coaches to reach out to athletes virtually and have some contact and interactions. They have established a stipend for each school to develop at-home workouts student-athletes can do. The local districts administrations say they are also encouraging schools to reach out to incoming students and begin introducing them to the programs they have registered for.

“We’ll continue to operate under safety parameters but we’ll continue to work on ways we can get back to athletics as soon as we can,” DeBerry said.