CHSAA Commissioner Blanford-Green reaches out to schools in open letter

Photo Credit: CHSAA

As decisions are made, the next set of questions begin to formulate around, what is next?  The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on education and especially co-curricular activities has left a stable industry operating on set dates and timelines shrouded in gray. We anticipate that there will be challenges and difficult decisions in our future that will require collaborative leadership as we work to return to the classroom and interscholastic activities. Even in our world of unknowns, what we do know, is that the social, financial and operational effects of this global pandemic will temporarily alter how we conduct business. There isn’t a prescribed script. If positively embraced, the opportunities to think outside the box and emerge as better servant-leaders are endless.

Every single sports entity from the professionals to little league are currently focused on how to resume participant engagement within a safe environment, free of health threats and liability. If resocialization was easy, we would all be watching current events instead of re-runs of the 2004 Athens Olympics. I have accepted that I will not have answers to every question, plan and/or thought that arises throughout the membership. My goal and that of the CHSAA staff is to remain laser focused on the next steps for resuming CHSAA programs in a safe, educational, environment while mitigating operational efficiencies to reduce financial stressors for our membership.

The CHSAA staff will be convening a “Resocialization to Activities” Task Force after June 1 to begin intentional discussions on what fall and subsequent seasons could look like within federal, state, medical, and educational guidelines. The Resocialization task force will be compromised of CHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory members, educational leaders representing all levels of administration, classifications and state geography. The Task Force will not be pressured to commit to definitive dates or timelines but are assembled to provide guidance to the association that is consistent with mandated guidelines.

CHSAA Resocialization Task Force Topics:

  • Should students be fully engaged with in-person learning before the association resumes activities/athletics?
  • Should we consider offering some activities/athletics if federal, state, medical and safety guidelines can be met at the local and association level?
  • Should we consider moving some activities/athletics to later start dates ie September, October, January and extending completion dates further than the traditional activities calendar?
  • Should we consider adjusting some activities/athletics to be conducted earlier/later than their traditional season?
  • Should we consider on-line participation for some activities in place of physical activation?
  • What safety measures will need to be in place to resume specific and/or all activities?

This list is a starting point for the Task Force that I anticipate will be convened throughout the 2020-21 school year.

Recommendations for how to respond to your coaches, participants and school communities in these uncertain times impacting our “WORLD”:

The safety and well-being of all entities within the activities culture will be the priority in all decisions from the state association, this is a non-negotiable. Your departments will provide answers when responsible, factual and time appropriate information is forwarded from the CHSAA office. The CHSAA office will continue to monitor federal, state, health and advisory guidelines that will indicate when and if activities/athletics can resume in the fall or later. As with all decisions that are being made at the state and educational levels, we are in a holding pattern.

We appreciate the advice, creative thoughts and comparisons to other states, but we will move incrementally without pressure to make decisions in the best interest of Colorado participants, our school communities and all CHSAA education-based programs. We want to resume to levels of normalcy as much, if not more than those we serve. The CHSAA team will be prepared to move forward when we are given 100 percent assurance that our activities can uphold the safety guidelines as set forth by our state, health and educational leaders.

June 1st CHSAA Physical Contact with Coaches/Athletes Permitted:

Local decisions on student/coach contact begins on June 1. A recent released document, Guidelines-Opening Up America Again, provides national recommendations that allow a regional approach for resocialization and resuming activities. I would also suggest a review of the “NCAA-Core Principles of Resocialization of College Sports”.  It will be important that you provide specific directives to your coaches, students, and parents aligned with federal and state guidelines when approving practices, training sessions, etc. In all articles, the most important note that needs to be mentioned is understanding your school/district level of liability when resuming and approving in-person meetings, training sessions, practices, rehearsals, try-outs, camps, etc.

I always appreciate the opportunity to update the membership on the Association but at the end of the day, your communication and leadership at the local level will assist your school communities as we navigate our new reality together.

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