The Colorado High School Activities Association released a video Q&A with commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green as a part of Tuesday’s virtual student leadership conference.
Questions were submitted from student leaders that ranged from Blanford-Green’s position, racial and social justice, and of course, CHSAA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and plans for fall.
As some state associations begin releasing information regarding fall sports, CHSAA remains silent on its plan. During the Q&A Blanford-Green said, “We would like to resume at the normal regular season, (and) protect our school seasons knowing that state and health guidelines will ultimately dictate how this will all play out.”
Nine states have announced delays to the start of the fall season, including three major changes specifically for football. New Mexico announced July 9 that football and boys’ soccer will be played in the spring. Virginia announced in addition to postponing the start of the season, that football would also not be played in the fall, and New Jersey has condensed its football season from 10 games to six.
Below are Blanford-Green’s responses to questions about COVID-19 from student leaders. See the entire Q&A on CHSAANow.com.
Q: What is CHSAA’s plan to safely administer athletics and activities in this time of COVID-19? — Jonathan Pazen of Dakota Ridge
A: You just asked a question that is being asked across the nation, across the world with professional sports, collegiate sports, high school sports, youth sports. But the thing about COVID is that it is dictating that we don’t have definitive answers right now. Our state and health officials look at the phases and they think we are moving in the right direction and then we have a resurgence and we have to take steps back. The beauty of Colorado is we have been pretty consistent and we haven’t had to make drastic step backs in the governor's decisions, but sometimes when you see things happening on the outside sometimes they trickle into the inside, so there’s a level of apprehension about what this will look like in a month with what is going on outside of (Colorado), but we absolutely have plans to move forward with contingencies, and also with descriptions and potentially shutdowns, so our staff has been working since March and April we have been throwing out ideas and we are putting them into some finality at this point, but my standard answer is, we would like to resume at the normal or regular season, (and) protect our school seasons knowing that state and health guidelines will ultimately dictate how this will all play out.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge in creating a similar mindset around COVID-19 within various communities (rural, urban and mountain)? — Nikki Jo Albert of Del Norte
A: That’s what we do. Although there are lots of conversations about, "we are in the Metro area so we only serve the Metro area," but our association has been serving the rural communities and presenting bylaws and competitive opportunities for our rural schools recently more than we have because there have been some challenges in our outside areas, so I guess my answer to that is, I can assure you that when we are making decisions, no different without a pandemic, our rural schools our small schools are in the forefront and we are not asking them to do or be something that would be prevalent in the metro area. They are in the forefront and they are a part of any decision that we make. They don’t have to follow behind and sometimes they are the leaders in why we do certain things.
I think they need to hear that we are not making decisions because our metro-area schools make a decision. I think a prime example is when schools started shutting down, a majority of our schools in our outer-lying areas did not shut down and CHSAA stayed in lockstep with a majority of our membership. We have already set examples and made decisions that show we are making decisions based on what is best for the membership and not just certain areas or groups.
Q: How can student leaders best educate their peers about COVID-19 and deal with opposing opinions on safety guidelines? — Jade Pruett of Durango High School
A: Anybody who is staying informed knows that in March and April we were together as communities, as states, as a nation to try to flatten the curve, and we were on board and willing to do what it took to make sure that we weren’t spreading or could at least understand a little bit more about what we were dealing with, but do it within the safety of our home. As we look at where we are today there’s this polarization of ideas out there and it’s become very political and people are taking stances one way or the other to voice their opinions, but it has got that underlying politicism to it. I think what student leaders can do is be very aware of the data out there, and no different than what we are doing as administrators, we are staying away from engaging in conversations that would maybe split the opinions. The advice what I would give is stick to the facts as closely as possible — but then you go, ‘whose facts?’ There’s a lot of facts out there, but there are simple things that conversations can be around that you can’t argue against. And I think as leaders you just keep reminding people we are in this together, wash your hands, social distance, stay away from the mask conversation right now, that could really start some controversy. Just some of the simple things, and remind people that you guys are in an age group right now that was originally low risk and you weren’t contracting the disease and there was no medical documentation, but now you’re in a place where they’re saying that potentially you (are at risk). So remember it’s not an argument about you, it’s about everyone around you that supports what you want to do. And that’s kind of the conversation that needs to be more in the forefront. You can’t have a game without officials, you can’t have a school without teachers in the classroom. There’s a whole subset of adults around you that we all have to be very mindful of and protecting their safety as well.